Centacare Central Queensland and Downing v G & K; Attorney General of the Commonwealth (Intervener) [1998] FamCA 109; (1998) 23 Fam LR 476

A couple attended a joint family counselling session where the wife made admissions.  The husband subsequently applied for custody of their children and subpoenaed the counsellor’s file in support of his case.  The trial judge noted that the best interests of the child was paramount and ruled that the agency comply with the subpoena to provide documents and that the counsellor provide evidence in court.  The agency and counsellor appealed arguing that information obtained during a family counselling session was inadmissible evidence.

The appeal court acknowledged that evidence that would assist a court to determine what is in the best interests of a child should be admitted.  In this case the appeal court allowed the appeal and set aside the subpoenas requiring the production of documents and the requirement for the counsellor to give evidence.