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|Family relationship centres announced|
The first 15 of 65 family relationship centres to be opened by the
federal government will be in areas with high numbers of young families.
The centres are intended to help families and protect the rights of the child, but fathers groups are demanding improved rights for fathers.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock announced the location of the first 15 centres - spread throughout the six states and the Northern Territory - at a family event in Penrith in Sydney's west.
The first centres will operating by July next year with a total of 65 being established over the next three years.
The centres were part of the new family law system and would become a vital source of support and assistance for families, Mr Ruddock said.
"The centres will become an integral part of their community by becoming the first port of call when people need help to make their relationships stronger or when relationships end," he said.
"We have located the first centres in areas with high numbers of families with young children and high numbers of divorced or separated families and blended families."
During a question and answer session with members of the public following the announcement, Mr Ruddock came under fire from fathers groups seeking further changes to the family law system to help fathers with custody issues.
Alex Peniazev from Men's Rights Agency said the current laws favoured women over men.
"The centres are a good idea but our concern is that we are not getting what we want, which is equal rights for men," Mr Peniazev said.
"The current Family Law Act is full of unfairness and inequality - children have the right to have contact with both of their parents on an equal basis."
Mr Ruddock said he hoped the centres would help both parents work through their issues.
"There is a lot of hurt," Mr Ruddock told reporters.
"Laws deal with the way in which people will arbitrate, if you get people to sit down and sort the things through themselves, even a percentage, might help."
Family services provider Catholic Welfare Australia welcomed the announcement, and said the centres would mean less time in court and make for happier families.
"The new Family Relationship Centres will provide new ways for families to resolve disputes without relying on the courts," Catholic Welfare Australia executive director Frank Quinlan said.
"For children in particular, we know that less dispute will mean less damage in the long-run."
The first centres will be in Lismore, Wollongong, Sutherland and Penrith in NSW; Mildura, Sunshine, Frankston and Ringwood in Victoria; Townsville and Strathpine in Queensland; Joondalup, Western Australia; Salisbury, South Australia, Hobart Tasmania, Darwin, in the Northern Territory and in Canberra.