COVID-19 | SOME FACTS

SOME FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • If you are not an Australian citizen please understand that your Prime Minister right now is Jacinda Ardern. Whether you like her, do not like her, hate Labour or like or dislike National – now is not the time for politics.
  • Before accessing your Super please look into your Super’s ‘Income Protection Insurance’ component. You most likely have built in Income Protection and may be able to access it if you contact your provider.
  • Misinformation is rampant at the moment.
  • Many Facebook pages or ‘Kiwi Community Facebook Pages’ have always used scaremongering as a tactic for engagement. We do not, we have only ever provided large scale solutions.
  • Only trust visa and migration information from registered migration agents who understand how the laws work for New Zealand citizens living in Australia. Some migration agents do not specialise in New Zealand citizenship services. Always ask first prior to engaging them.
  • Are media outlets making money from this right now? Yes, they have adverts inside the news articles and they use cookies to market products to you later. Yes, their headlines are emotive and pull on heart strings so you click on them.
  • Entitlements for kiwis in Australia is an evolving situation, information is changing daily.
  • Yes, some Kiwis are not included in the Job Keeper roll out package announced March 30th. If you are one of these people, please start assessing your individual situation to ensure you and your family are as safe and organised as you can be.
  • Be aware of scams. Do your research, if it doesn’t look right, don’t donate.

Parenting Orders & Covid-19

Statement from the Hon Will Alstergren – 26 MARCH 2020 – For all states, excluding WA

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (the Courts) are acutely aware that the current pandemic is having an enormous impact on families and the Australian community.

Parents are naturally deeply concerned about the safety of their children and how the COVID-19 virus will affect their lives. Part of that concern in family law proceedings can extend to a parent’s or carer’s ability to comply with parenting orders and what should be properly expected of them by the Courts in these unprecedented times.

The purpose of this statement is to clarify that the Courts remain open to assist parties, and to provide parents with some general guidance. However, it is understood that every family’s circumstances are different.

  1. It is imperative that parents and carers act in the best interests of their children. This includes ensuring their children’s safety and wellbeing. Whilst the Courts make orders that are determined to be in the best interests of a child, caring for and determining the practical day- to-day best interests of a child is primarily the responsibility of parents and carers.
  2. Consistent with their responsibilities to act in the children’s best interests, parents and carers are expected to comply with Court orders in relation to parenting arrangements. This includes facilitating time being spent by the children with each parent or carer pursuant to parenting orders.
  3. In the highly unusual circumstances now faced by Australian parents and carers, there may be situations that arise that make strict compliance with current court orders very difficult, if not, impossible. This may be caused, for instance, where orders stipulate that contact with a parent occurs at a designated contact centre, which may not currently be operating. Or, the “pick up” arrangements of a child may nominate a particular school, and that school is now closed. Many state borders are also closed. In addition, there may be genuine safety issues that have arisen whereby one parent, or someone in close contact with that parent, has been exposed to COVID- 19, and this may restrict the safe movement of a child from one house to another.
  4. As a first step, and only if it is safe to do so, parties should communicate with each other about their ability to comply with current orders and they should attempt to find a practical solution to these difficulties. These should be considered sensibly and reasonably. Each parent should always consider the safety and best interests of the child, but also appreciate the concerns of the other parent when attempting to reach new or revised arrangements. This includes understanding that family members are important to children and the risk of infection to vulnerable members of the child’s family and household should also be considered.
  1. If an agreement can be reached about new parenting arrangements, even if they are to be adjusted for a short period of time, this agreement should ideally be in writing, even if by way of email, text message or WhatsApp between each other. This will be particularly important if there are later family law hearings and will assist all concerned, including the Court, to understand what agreement may have been reached.
  2. If you feel that you need further guidance, the Family Relationships Advice Line can provide information, advice and telephone-based Family Dispute Resolution services to assist parents and carers to discuss any issues that arise and help them come to an agreement. The Family Relationships Advice Line can be contacted on 1800 050 321 or visit the website.
  3. Parents and carers can also mediate their differences through lawyers. Electronic mediation services are available from the Courts and through local Bar Associations and Law Societies during these restricted times. Visit their websites for more information.
  4. If an agreement has been reached and consent orders have been developed to outline new or varied parenting orders, consent order applications can be filed electronically with the Court. This process is quick and usually conducted without a hearing.
  5. If the parties are unable to agree to vary the arrangement, or if it is unsafe to do so, and one or both parents continue to have real concerns, the parties are at liberty to approach the Court electronically and seek a variation of the orders.
  6. Where there is no agreement parents should keep the children safe until the dispute can be resolved. Also during this period of dispute, parents should ensure that each parent or carer continues to have some contact with the children consistent with the parenting arrangements such as by videoconferencing, social media, or if that is not possible, by telephone.
  7. At all times, parents or carers must act reasonably. To act reasonably, or to have a reasonable excuse for not complying with Court orders, is a matter that is considered by the Court (pursuant to s70NAE of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)).
  8. It is imperative that, even if the orders cannot be strictly adhered to and are varied by the parties, the parties ensure that the purpose or spirit of the orders are respected when considering altering arrangements, and that they act in the best interest of the children.
  9. The Courts appreciate that agreement by mutual consent may not be reached, particularly if one party has concern for their physical safety. Therefore, the Courts advise that if you or your child is in immediate danger, please contact your local police and seek medical advice if required.

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