LawTermFinder 2020

LawTermFinder focuses on the terminology of Family Law and associated mediation processes in Australia. It supports the work of the Family Law Branch of the Australian Attorney-General’s Department and its services such as Family Relationship Online.

Its large set of 324 terms are designed to cover the essentials for members of the public who are involved in or considering a legal action. They may be self-representing litigants who would need to know the key legal issues to focus on, or citizens supporting others in need of legal help, or students interested in the procedures and provisions of Australian Family Law.

Prior to going to court, Family Law requires that the parties involved first seek assistance in resolving the issues, through one or more mediation sessions with a registered dispute resolution practitioner (except in cases of violence or child abuse).  LawTermFinder includes terms for the various aspects and types of mediation, as well as the documentation to be filed, such as the Section 60i.

LawTermFinder takes account of different terminologies used in relation to couples in traditional and non-traditional relationships, and the alternatives used in different contexts of law in different Australian state.  It includes terminology relating to adoption, and to shared parenting, as well as surrogacy, donor conception and IVF.

TRANSLATING LawTermFinder.  LawTermFinder has been progressively translated into 8 Australian community languages, with the support of the Attorney-General’s Department from 2012 to the present. These are designed to meet the needs of the major communities of immigrants, especially those who use a different script from the roman alphabet, and/or have low proficiency in English (as indicated by Census statistics).  So far the languages/scripts include Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese), Filipino, Korean, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese.

The translations can be selected from a menu in the left-hand column, and are then available from boxes attached to the language label which appear on every page (until the selection is changed). The language labels are attached to the head term and its definition, and to any diagrams or usage notes on the page.  Examples are not translated, since they help to introduce other terms in context and extend the network of terms to be explored.

INDIGENOUS NEEDS  The current 2020-22 project is provide access to LawTermFinder for Indigenous Australians. This is a new kind challenge, since few of them who live in remote regions can read English nor the several other local Aboriginal languages that they usually speak.

Instead there are Indigenous field workers and multilingual interpreters who step in, to explain the issues of Australian law to them, and help them to understand the processes.  Our aim is therefore to develop “simplified” English explanations with illustrations wherever possible, to be used by interpreters whose language repertoires include English. They can then translate English legal language orally into whichever language the Indigenous person understands best.