Conversations between Judges and Children: an Argument in Favour of Judicial Conferences in Contested Children's Matters

Michelle Fernando

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article discusses the infrequent practice of judges speaking directly with children, or 'judicial conferencing'. It is argued that there are good reasons why judges should speak with children. Children have a right to be heard in proceedings affecting them, and many express they want to be involved. Judges, in making decisions, must take children's views into account. Judicial conferencing allows children's views to be presented without filtering by third parties, ensuring informed decisions are made on the best available evidence. The results will be to empower children in a situation where they otherwise have very little input and control, and to promote decisions which are truly in children's best interests. While the flexibility created by the Less Adversarial Trial is ideal for increased judicial interaction with children, any actual increase will require an attitudinal shift on the part of many judges who are reluctant to embrace the practice
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-70
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Journal of Family Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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