The Hon. Justice Suzanne Christie of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 1) and Judge Elizabeth Boyle of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Division 2) visited the Supreme Court of Indonesia from 25-29 July 2022 to continue discussions under the Memorandum of Understanding between the courts that focuses on improving the quality of services and judicial decisions in family law cases affecting women and children.
The visit included a two-day International Dialogue that linked over 600 courts and individuals across Indonesia to a face-to-face meeting that was held in Jakarta.
The topics discussed included:
- the provision of financial support for women and children post-divorce, including consideration of an administrative mechanism for calculating and distributing maintenance for the welfare of women and children
- expeditious hearing of family law cases when the husband does not come to court, and
- how to ensure the best interests of the child when hearing divorce cases that involve domestic violence.
The Hon. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Republic of Indonesia, Prof. Dr. H.M Syarifuddin, S.H., M.H opened the International Dialogue. The Chief Justice mentioned findings from the Australian Indonesia Partnership for Justice phase 2 (2018 research), which highlighted that while a million children a year were affected by divorce cases finalised at court, the Religious Courts were issuing orders for child maintenance in only 1 per cent of divorce cases.
The Chief Justice mentioned that with such a large number, it is conceivable that the impact of divorce experienced by these children, in the long run, will also affect the social structure and fabric of our society. Although the number of children affected by divorce each year is large, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court regretted that the implementation of divorce decisions, especially related to the payment of child and spousal maintenance, is still not effective.
Stephen Scott, Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy to Indonesia also provided opening remarks that highlighted the strong partnership and collaboration between the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
Justice Christie outlined how “Australia’s experience shows how a Child Support Agency located outside the court system reaches a significant number of children. By standardising the child support formula and taking into account income, living arrangements and special needs, the Australian child support formula endeavours to provide a fair outcome for all involved. The innovations in Malaysia relating to garnishment of bank accounts and Hajj funds presented during the International Dialogue show potential solutions for exploration to the benefit of children.”
The visit also included two webinars that were conducted in collaboration with the Religious Court Agency and the Badilag Director-General Bapak Aco Nur. These webinars connected the Badilag Command Centre in Jakarta with all 414 first instance Religious Courts and 29 High Religious Courts to consider electronic filing of divorce case using a uniform application (Gugatan Mandiri) to assist women in remote areas as well as how court websites and social media resources can provide client focused information in a simple format.
The Hon. Justice Prof. Dr. H. Takdir Rahmadi, S.H, LL.M concluded the International Dialogue by stating that: “There should be no gap between what is written in law and what is practiced and the social facts. This is a difficult challenge. In today’s International Dialogue the stakeholders have been more diverse including BAPPENAS, KPPPA and Kemenpan. With AIPJ2, we are giving our greatest attention to working with these Indonesian partners to strengthen the enforcement of orders for child and spousal maintenance following divorce.”