The Backbone Collective is a national coalition of survivors of violence against women and watchdog NGO that acts as a voice for victims of domestic abuse. The Collective recently released the results of a survey, the conclusions of were pretty damning of the Family Court. Last Wednesday, the Principal Family Court Judge Laurence Ryan released a media statement in response to the criticisms made by the Backbone Collective, in which Judge Ryan said many of the issues raised by the Collective were already addressed or discussed by Parliament. Michelle Duggan, Chair of the New Zealand Law Society's Family Law Section, also released a statement supporting the comments of Judge Ryan. 95bFM reporter Caitlin McIlhagga speaks to both Duggan and Professor Mark Heneghan, Dean of Law at the University of Otago, about the Backbone Collective's criticisms of the Family Court and recent Family Court reforms.
Caitlin also spoke to both Duggan and Heneghan about the participation of McKenzie Friends in the Family Court process. A McKenzie Friend is the name given to a support person for people who are representing themselves in court. McKenzie Friends are not lawyers, and cannot address the court without permission or draft any legal documents, but they can sit with litigants in court for support.
To listen to Caitlin’s full interview with the self-proclaimed ‘first McKenzie Friend Specialist’ in New Zealand, click here.