This article deals with the process undertaken by the Australian Government to develop and implement Family Relationship Centres (FRCs) as part of a major package of reforms to the Australian family law system. The article outlines consultation undertaken in developing the reforms and explains the role of the FRCs. The article details the practical steps taken to roll-out the new FRCs. The services were to be outsourced to community-based service providers but there were many issues for the Government to address, including: how an FRC should operate; where they should be located; how to allocate the funding; and how to manage the roll-out of so many services. Other aspects of the implementation covered in the article include: addressing accessibility and quality control issues; training FRC staff; establishing a national telephone advice line and website; and informing the public about the new services. The article also refers to steps taken to support the introduction of compulsory dispute resolution; and research and evaluation undertaken to measure the impact of the reforms.
Keypoints for the Family Court Community
- Family Relationship Centres (FRCs) were a new type of service and their development and implementation raised a range of issues to be dealt with by the Australian Government.
- Determining where and when FRCs would be rolled out, selecting community-based service providers, addressing accessibility and quality control issues, training FRC staff and raising public awareness of the new services were all part of the implementation process.
- As brand new services, FRCs were able to be innovative and to develop new processes (and adapt old ones) to suit their role as an alternative to the courts and as a doorway to the wider family law system.