Blog post by Sam Lehman
It’s a sign of the times when the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court decide to launch their very own official YouTube channels – we’re definitely in the digital age! These channels aim to provide informational ‘how to’ videos to the public, allowing the unrepresented to more easily navigate the court system.
It’s a savvy idea and one that couldn’t have come at a better time – with the courts receiving over 31,000 divorce applications each year that lack legal representation, anything that alleviates the mounting pressure on the already backlogged system is a welcome relief.
In a recent media release, the Family Court of Australia has acknowledged that aspects of the divorce process, such as serving documents, can cause confusion to self-represented parties. It’s no surprise then that ‘How to apply for a divorce: serving divorce papers’ was the first video to be uploaded on both YouTube channels.
The first but hopefully not the last, more videos are expected to be uploaded and all will provide a free service aimed at improving understanding of court processes and the ability to perform pre-trial procedures or similar. It’s clear that more needs to be done however, as since the original videos went live there’s been no more activity – the channels will only become viable tools if given the constant support they require.
Nevertheless, the move to YouTube reflects the prominence of visual and online media in contemporary society and is a clever way to tap into the zeitgeist. Indeed, more and more people are computer literate and are using Internet platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter among others to consume digital information – to not tap into the aether in this manner would be a missed opportunity.
The YouTube channels introduce a novel approach of explaining family law systems, and are an untapped and potentially valuable resource for family lawyers too (if admittedly low on content at the present). They offer an engaging alternative to the kits that the Family Law Courts website already provides to assist with the preparation of court documents, making the court process even more transparent and accessible.
In retrospect, it’s not a particularly surprising move – the Family Court has been abuzz on Twitter since late 2012. You can find them @FamilyCourtAU.
The new YouTube channels are the logical next step and help to make key information more accessible. Next up, Facebook?