Dr Rachel Carson


Dr Rachel Carson is a socio-legal researcher with expertise in family law. After practising as a lawyer, Rachel worked as a researcher in family law at the University of Melbourne while undertaking her PhD in this field of research. Since joining the Australian Institute of Family Studies in 2012, Rachel’s work has included the Independent Children’s Lawyer Study she was the lead researcher on, and the recently completed Children and Young People in Separated Families project.


“Give children a bigger voice, more of the time” – Findings from the Children and Young People in Separated Families Project (Oral Paper Presentation)

How do children and young people experience the family law system and how may services better meet their needs? These were the research aims underpinning the Children and Young People in Separated Parents Project – a recent qualitative study conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS). The project was commissioned and funded by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department and was designed to build on the existing, now extensive, empirical base on separated families to develop a better understanding of how children fare after the separation of their parents, and the extent to which their needs are met within existing service formats. The fieldwork for this project involved in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 61 children and young people aged from 10 years to 17 years, and was supplemented by interviews with 47 parents of these children to understand the services accessed by the parents and the pathways used to resolve their family law matters.

This presentation will explore the rich insights from participating children and young people about the issues important to them in making post-separation parenting arrangements, and their experiences with, and reflections on, family law system services. The discussion will conclude with a snapshot of effective professional practice from the perspectives of children and young people with a view to providing them with a “bigger voice, more of the time”.

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