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Separation and divorce seminar, giving children a voice


29 November 2004
Three leading academics will present recent research on the needs and perspectives of children in separation and divorce procedures, at a seminar to be held at Southern Cross University on Thursday.

SCU’s Centre for Children and Young People (CCYP), is presenting the seminar -‘Separation and Divorce: Focusing on the Children’ – as part of their ongoing education program which focuses on child-inclusive and child focused practice.

Director of CCYP, Dr Anne Graham, said one of the key objectives of the Centre is to give greater voice to children and young people in matters that profoundly affect their lives.

“Children are involved in family court legal processes no matter how or by whom they are positioned, and they do have the desire and capacity to participate in the decisions that potentially impact significantly on their lives.”

“The Conference will provide new insights from research on children’s perspectives of their parent’s separation and divorce that have implications for professionals working with children.”

“Presenters will focus on how we promote children’s resilience within divorce transitions and how we might better apply such a concept to practice.”

“The Research shows there are many benefits of involving children in the decision making processes that surround their parents’ separation and divorce.”

The conference is timely in light of the recent release of the government’s discussion paper A New Approach to the Family Law System signaling the government’s intention to make the most significant changes to the Family Law Act since 1975.

The seminar will be attended by family lawyers, teachers, social workers, parents and others who work with young children and young people and will be chaired by Justice Margaret Beazley, New South Wales Supreme Court of Appeal.

The keynote address will be given by:

Professor Anne Smith, one of New Zealand’s foremost researchers on socio-legal issues, will question the implicit assumption that it is a burden for children to be involved in decisions about their living arrangements after their parents separate. She will draw upon extensive research interviewing children and young people, their parents and their legal representatives to explore the implications for child-focused practice.

Associate Professor Judy Cashmore, a developmental psychologist and leading Australian researcher on children’s involvement in the Australian legal system will present findings from recent research with Professor Patrick Parkinson regarding the role of overnight stays in maintaining a relationship with their non-resident parent. The paper will draw upon their analysis of interviews with 60 young people aged12 to 19.

Dr Anne Graham, Centre for Children and Young People will also present a paper on “Children and divorce transitions: reviewing the risk and resilience debates.

For further information visit the Centre’s website at

Media contact: Kasturi Shanahan, 02 6620 3144 or 0439 858 057 or Brigid Veale on 0439 680 748.