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Abstract

The utility of confidentiality and inadmissibility of that communicated orally or in writing during Family Dispute Resolution (‘FDR’) has recently been questioned. A tension exists between the confidentiality of dispute resolution processes and the desire of Courts, especially with increasing focus upon addressing abuse and family violence, to have all available evidence accessible. This article introduces and analyses data obtained from an extensive 2014/15 survey of practicing Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (‘FDRPs’) from private, government and community based practice regarding their attitudes to confidentiality and its importance in Family Dispute Resolution. Discourse regarding the utility of confidentiality has pointed to the asserted absence of empirical research into the attitudes of FDRPs regarding the importance of confidentiality. This survey was undertaken to contribute to the discourse regarding confidentiality in FDR and so as to ensure that the views of FDRPs were ascertained and heard in such discourses. Ultimately, the attitudes expressed by FDRPs reflect the importance of confidentiality to the process of FDR and lend significant support to a continuation of the ‘imperfect protections’ offered by the present Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provisions regarding confidentiality and inadmissibility.

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