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Indigenous culture and parenting

The Family Law Act recognises the importance of children maintaining a connection with their Indigenous culture following a family breakdown. The court will consider these issues when making parenting orders.

The court may appoint an Indigenous adviser to help it understand how these issues will impact families.

An Indigenous interpreter can be arranged through the family law courts if an Indigenous person is having difficulty understanding or communicating with court staff in English.

Making a parenting order

When making a parenting order, the court must look at the impact it will have on the child’s right to enjoy their Indigenous culture.

When deciding what’s best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the court will look at:

  • the children’s and their parents’ lifestyle, culture and traditions
  • the child’s right to enjoy their culture, including the right to enjoy it with other people sharing the same culture
  • any kinship relationships that may impact the child
  • the child-rearing practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Indigenous adviser

The court may appoint an Indigenous adviser who understands Indigenous culture.

Their role is to help the court understand the relevant cultural issues so the court can provide a culturally appropriate service. They make sure:

  • the court process is not culturally biased
  • the Indigenous party (or parties) have an opportunity to present their views
  • the court process is sensitive to and responsive to Indigenous needs.

It’s not the Indigenous adviser’s role to directly represent the Indigenous party or to translate.

An Indigenous adviser may be appointed when the parties see a family consultant, a registrar or a judicial officer.

Indigenous interpreter

An Indigenous interpreter can be arranged through the Family Law Courts if an Indigenous person is having difficulty understanding or communicating with court staff in English.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if:

  • you have a family law dispute that can’t be resolved without family dispute resolution, mediation or court
  • there has been family violence or abuse.

Get legal advice

We may be able to give legal advice on family law disputes.

The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.

Community legal centres — give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help with your matter.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) — may be able to give legal representation and advice on family law matters for Indigenous people.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Legal Service NQ — may be able to give legal advice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women about family law matters.

Women's Legal Service — gives free legal advice to women on areas of law including domestic violence and family law.

Queensland Law Society — can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may be able to help. They don’t provide legal advice.

Family Relationship Advice Line — gives information about the family law system in Australia.

Family Relationship Centres — give information, referrals, dispute resolution and advice on parenting after separation. Some centres have Indigenous staff available for help.

Family law courts — deal with family law cases. Court forms and information on family court processes available online.

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