Family Justice reforms experts announced

  • Hon Andrew Little

Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced the full line up of the ‘Expert Reference Group’ to support the Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms.

“I asked for highly qualified and experienced people because it’s critical that the panel is supported by relevant experts,” says Andrew Little.

“The Expert Reference Group (ERG) includes experts in child psychology, family law, mediation, kaupapa Māori research and family violence, along with representatives from key organisations in the family justice sector.

“The ERG members are:

  • Professor Bill Atkin and Associate Professor Nicola Taylor: family law academics and researchers
  • Associate Professor Ruth Busch (retired): an expert on family violence
  • Catherine Cooper: General Manager of Resolution Institute (NZ)
  • Jill Goldson: family mediation specialist
  • Deborah Hart: Executive Director of the Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institution of New Zealand
  • Simon Jefferson QC: leading family law practitioner
  • Dr Jan Pryor: psychologist and academic specialising in outcomes for children after parental separation
  • Professor Jacinta Ruru: kaupapa Māori research expert
  • Kirsty Swadling: family lawyer and Chair of the Family Law Section, and
  • Renuka Wali: psychologist and specialist court report writer

“One of my objectives in initiating this work is to ensure the family justice system reflects up-to-date evidence about what works for whānau post-separation, especially children.”

“This ERG will be invaluable in ensuring the Panel’s findings are based on current research and best practice

“The Panel includes human rights expert Rosslyn Noonan and prominent family lawyers, La-Verne King and Chris Dellabarca. It has been tasked with examining reforms made to the family justice system by the previous government in 2014.

“The Terms of Reference require the Panel to look at in-court and out-of-court processes, the role and use of professionals, and whether the decisions being made are in the best interests of the children. I expect the panel to report back to me by May 2019,” says Andrew Little.

The Panel would like to hear from people who have first-hand experience of the family justice system and the 2014 changes.

Details about the Panel can be found at