Anti-Racist Practice in the Family Courts

Anti-racist practice aims to identify discrimination owing to race or membership of a minoritised community and to address the systems and privileges that maintain this unequal treatment, whether intentional or unintentional.

In adopting this practice in the family courts, it is hoped that legal professionals can work together with each other, along with families, children and young people to achieve better outcomes.

The guiding principle of anti-racist practice encourages everyone to speak up when professionals interact or behave in a way that is disrespectful or unacceptable, to families or colleagues.

More specifically, the practice seeks to:
– Treat people as individuals through focused active listening
– Highlight the danger of stereotyping and bias
– Encourage awareness of one’s own prejudices, those of others and those of the court system
– Use clear and direct written and spoken language, avoiding professional jargon
– Be understanding where English is a second language and allow time for any translations required
– Appreciate that many will be unfamiliar with our court processes and systems
– Ask families and children how they wish to be identified in terms of ethnicity
– Be aware of the lived experience of racism, which can be traumatic and impacts people’s mental health

Recognising & Challenging Racism

It’s important that we all educate ourselves about different cultural practices and traditions from a perspective of ‘cultural humility’ and to be mindful of white privilege. We should also challenge racism when we encounter it, whether that is among colleagues, employees or families with whom we work. Ideally, everyone in court should feel free to raise concerns relating to less favourable treatment and while this may feel difficult and uncomfortable, it is important to also be aware of any defensiveness around this.