12.84Another key role is educating the community as to the services offered by the Family Court. The Boshier report recommended that one of the Co-ordinator’s roles would be to act as intake officer in assessing a case for the appropriate resolution method.1229 The Co-ordinator’s functions would include client contact, early case classification, assessment and referral, liaison with professional groups and public education activities.1230 The Co-ordinator would have a counselling background and be trained in mediation. The report of the Task Group on a Family Court also recommended a Conciliation Co-ordinator.
12.85We recommend that the post of a Co-ordinator be created whose duty would be to facilitate the proper functioning of the services that will support the Family Court dispute resolution system. We set out his or her tasks in more detail below. We prefer the term “Support Services Co-ordinator” (SSC) to that of “Conciliation Co-ordinator” used in the report of the Task Group on a Family Court to avoid confusion with reconciliation. Also, the SSC’s task would extend beyond mediation to counselling conferences and referral of parties to counselling outside the court.
12.86The SSC would assess the needs of the parties for counselling, a counselling conference or mediation. He or she would refer suitable cases to the appropriate persons, whether Social Welfare Department counsellors or mediators, community mediation or counselling services, professional mediators, counsellors, or other support services.
12.87There would have to be more than one SSC, as they would also co-ordinate referrals to the information session and the counselling conferences. Reports of progress could be made to the SSC who would liaise with legal representatives. In order to make the appropriate referral the Co-ordinator can look at affidavits or information sheets or interview the parties if necessary. The Co-ordinator would obtain feedback from clients and the professionals involved so as to assess any need for improvement in the delivery of such services. The Co-ordinator would also liaise with the staff of the Social Welfare Department who provide reports to the court on the parties.
12.88The Law Reform Commission’s report on divorce recommended that priority be given to promotion of marriage counselling, mediation and conciliation services.1231 It also recommended that the Government give consideration to the future expansion and development of these services in Hong Kong.
12.89The Hartmann Working Group supported mediation as an alternative to adjudication of family cases. However, because of the shortage of qualified mediators in Hong Kong at that time, it took the view that “it was premature to
1229 Supra at paragraph 6.5.2.
1230 Boshier report supra.
1231 Paragraph 9.11 of Report on Grounds for Divorce and the Time Restrictions on Petitions for Divorce within Three Years of Marriage (1992: Topic 29).