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1 Family Law in Australia on Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:00 pm


This is an issue that has come all too close to home lately, and apparently it's an issue that's been on the books for the last few years, though most of the time it doesn't reach the public as the topics are often considered too horrible that people don't seem to want to think about it. These are some links from both petitions to change the laws and transcripts from the Tasmaniana courts including some horrific stories where the system has so badly fucked up that it's hard to understand how ignorant some people can be.

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The second link contains a link to "Bravehearts" which are an organisation advocating awareness for sexual assault of children and teaching children self protection strategies and behaviours and teaching them to tell someone they trust if someone does something to them that makes them feel uncomfortable.

The courts seem to have the opinion now'days that every father has the right to have unsupervised access to their own children, even if they have a history of abuse or sexual assault. This has changed from a while back, if people remember, the stories of fathers who weren't allowed to have anything to do with their children because of unsubstantiated claims. The other side of the story is that Child Protection, which is meant to look out for the rights of children is underfunded, undereducated and underqualified to handle some of the situations, and merely try to pass off the issues so they don't have to follow it up. Tasmania especially, has an extremely low rate of reported abuse being fully investigated and substantiated, whereas in Queensland 100% of reports must be fully investigated. Queensland also has very strict laws on the reporting of child abuse, where if you hear or know of a child being abused, even if you are usually confined to confidentiality, you must report it. Obviously in Queensland, anyone can make the complain who knows of child abuse happening. In Tasmania, the child has to make the complaint. In many many cases, the child is young or is threatened with harm, or bribed not to tell anyone, so they are not able to report it to authorities, even though they may tell a trusted family member or teacher.

Judges and solicitors in the family courts do not need any special training in psychology or social work. The employees of Child protection do not even need to have studied psychology or know how to identify abuse, or the characteristics of abused children. The ones who do have a qualification are usually just trained as social workers.

I personally know of a mother who left her fiance after discovering he had child pornography on his computer and had had an unhealthy relationship with a male cousin. He was also emotionally and physically abusive. He was convicted of possessing child pornography though he claimed it was on a hard drive that he'd bought and he didn't want to police to confiscate (the hard drive), so was sentenced to nothing more than good behaviour and to be listed on the sex offenders register. He fought for access of his child but only received supervised access through a registered access centre, though he rarely turned up for the visits. Several years later he successfully appealed his conviction, using the loophole that the police had confused him as to which pornography they were talking about when they interviewed him. He then applied for unsupervised access of his 3 year old child. Despite Child Protection's recommendations that he not receive this, as he was not found 'innocent' of the possession charges, he merely got off on a technicality, the courts still granted him weekly unsupervised access of about 6 hours. The mother was told byt the family court judge that if she did not hand the child over for access she would be put in jail. On the second or third access, the child was taken to the hospital by their mother because they were complaining of soreness and said in front of their mother and family that "the man" had hurt them.

The child was admitted to emergency ward and had to wait overnight to be seen by a paediatrician, as normal doctors do not have the right to see or touch children's 'private areas'. The police and child protection were notified. By the end of the next day, they were told they could go home by the police. The child wasn't inspected by anyone, but the hospital informed child protection and the police that the child had been examined by 2 paediatricians and did not find any evidence of abuse. The child was interviewed by the police but would not talk about the incident. The mother tried to apply to the family court to suspend visitation until the matter was investigated; this was denied.

When the family tried to talk to Child Protection they insisted that the child had been seen by specialists and there was no signs of abuse. They soon began to suggest the mother had been telling the child what to say. The police interrogated the mother and grandmother, clearly on the assumption the claims of abuse were being made up. The head of this particular devision of Child Protection told the grandmother to 'think very carefully' before reporting abuse. The child was taken for medical treatment on several other occassions when the child was again complaining of being hurt. The child even yelled out when the father came to the exchange centre to collect them, not to hurt them again and to stay away from their private parts. None of the employees at this exchange reported this.The father claimed the child had been told to say this. Child Protection warned the mother that if she kept seeking medical help for abuse they would take the child off her. The father then used this information to claim that the child was being abused by repeatedly being 'inspected' for assault, and was being told that they were being abused, and applied for custody again. He also applied to the courts for the child to not be allowed to be taken for medical treatment except with the permission of himself or the court. This request was given.

The father is engaged to another girl who is several months pregnant. The courts deemed it fine for the girlfriend to act as supervision during the weekly access. She also has a young nephew who her fiance spends a lot of time with. She reported to the police once that her partner was abusive. Several days later they got back together and she now claims he has never been aggressive to her. She has lost most of her friends because they tried to persuade her to leave him, but she refused.

Last edited by eshtaol on Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:17 pm; edited 1 time in total

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2 Re: Family Law in Australia on Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:06 pm


aaaaahhhhhhhhhh so many words

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