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Webinar recording | FDR in a multicultural & multi faith Australia: meeting the needs of Australian Muslims by Dr Ghena Krayem and Dr Susan Armstrong

31 December 2019

Venue: Zoom Webinar
Zoom Webinar

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FDR in a multicultural & multi faith Australia: meeting the needs of Australian Muslims

This presentation considers the post-separation practices and needs of Australian Muslim families and how these might be reflected in mainstream family mediation or family dispute resolution (FDR). Like other members of the Australian community, more Australian Muslims are separating and divorcing than was the case for previous generations. Like Muslims elsewhere, Australian Muslims are skillful legal navigators, and the processes they engage in at this time are multi-layered and for many purposes. Some will use religious community dispute resolution processes to ensure that this important life transition reflects their faith, community, cultural and family traditions and values. Others will also choose, or become involved in, mainstream post-separation family dispute resolution processes.

The needs of Muslim people involved in post-separation disputes include understanding, respect, safety and support, as well as an awareness of the particular needs of their children to develop their cultural and religious identity. To what extent can or should mainstream family dispute resolution be adapted to facilitate the achievement of outcomes that will support Muslim families at this time?

This presentation draws on available empirical evidence to illuminate the experience and needs of separating Australian Muslims. The presenters contend that established FDR practices may be adapted to better accommodate the needs of separating Australian Muslims, as well as other cultural and religious groups, without the need for different laws or processes. They provide some practical illustrations of how family mediators might do this.

The presentation also considers five principles that might inform good practice in working with cultural and faith minorities in mediation. Good practice with separating Muslim families (and with other cultural and faith minority families) is ethical and relational; it prioritises the pre-mediation process; it responds dynamically to the cultural and faith context of the parties during mediation; it acknowledges children’s right to develop their cultural and religious identity; and it is sustained by communities of practice.

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About the presenters:

Dr Ghena Krayem

Ghena is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, the University of Sydney, teaching and researching in the areas of constitutional and public law, legal ethics, dispute resolution, the application of sharia in Australia, Muslim women and Islamic family law. She is the author of Islamic Family Law in Australia: To Recognise or not To Recognise (2014) and co-author of Accommodating Muslims under Common Law: A Comparative Analysis (2016). Dr Krayem was recently awarded an ARC grant to explore The Response of Australian Family law to Islamic community processes, which she is currently working on with colleagues from Melbourne University. She is also an accredited FDRP.

Adjunct Professor Susan Armstrong

Susan was a researcher and legal educator at Western Sydney Law School for over 20 years. Collaborating with family law service providers in western Sydney, she developed a model of culturally responsive FDR as well as an award-winning program to help law students better understand domestic violence. She has advised law reform commissions and federal agencies about culturally appropriate and accessible family law services. Susan is an accredited FDRP and chairs the Management Committee of South West Sydney Legal Centre.