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Proposed Family Court of Australia amendments

The petition is part of a Family Court - Saftey First campaign which will culminate in a national Petition and Mayday! Rally on Sunday, May 3. The date is International Press Freedom Day and will mark the anniversary of the deaths of two children killed i

Found on another site and relates to a request for possible legislative change.

Family Court of Australia amendments

This petition is for ordinary citizens, family law specialists, child protection organizations, academics and other professionals interested in the way the Family Court of Australia (FCA) deals with child custody, access and shared care in cases of suspected domestic violence or sexual abuse.

The petition is part of a Family Court - Saftey First campaign which will culminate in a national Mayday! Rally on Sunday, May 3. The date is International Press Freedom Day and will mark the anniversary of the deaths of two children killed in a murder suicide after a bad Family court decision. For more information about the rally in your city and the campaign, google ; Family Court Rally; Petition Update ; or see this web link http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=69087938967#

The petition calls on Kevin Rudd and Attorney General Robert McClelland to amend FCA laws to better protect children from violent or otherwise abusive parents.<br />

Former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia said our legal system should consider following New Zealand's lead after one of their own children was brutally murdered by her father.<br />

Now, in NZ the onus has been shifted to a violent parent to prove they are safe before custody or access is considered.<br />

Nobody would force an adult rape victim to regularly spend time with their rapist, yet we routinely sentence children to regular contact with parents they have seen beating another parent or who have abused them.

The Howard Government strengthened the equal access to both parent's notion, without enough regard for the fitness of both parents to care for a child, by recommending shared-care where possible.

If you care about keeping children safe after separation or divorce, please find a moment to sign this petition.

If you sign this, please, send it to your networks and ask them to sign and pass it to their networks. Your one signature, this way, can turn into hundreds.</div><div class="item2">
Petition: We call on the Federal Government to:

Amend custody, access and shared care of Australian children following divorce where there is an allegation of violence or abuse by a parent.

Implement former Chief Justice of the Family Court Alistair Nicholson suggestion that the onus should be on a parent with a history of abuse to prove they are safe and that an inquisitorial process better serves the needs of children in the Family Court.

Acknowledge in legislation that access to both parents is not always beneficial to children when there is insufficient regard to previous history or evidence of family violence or sexual abuse by a parent.

Enshrine in legislation that parents? rights to their children must not take precedence over the children's right to be and feel safe.

Legislate that all legal professionals in FCA have acccredited training in child development, domestic violence and child sexual abuse. A panel of experts who have spent time with the child should also make a recommendation to the court.

Introduce legislation allowing FCA to hear children's own testimony regarding custody and access. We must stop parents and foster carers from forcing crying children to see parents they were removed from because of violence or sexual abuse.

To review the legal system in which the very lives of children are put shamefully at risk. To dispel, through legislation, the current court myth that a violent spouse can be a good parent. The current system is ill equipped to deal with psychological needs of children.
Editors note: How do you legislate for bad parents? Much emotive language and little fact at law. Testimony from children is often tainted by pressures from the lives with parent who has all the time to make the appropriate suggestions over long periods of time. Caution , accuracy and a sensible approach is needed here

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
How can a parent "prove they are safe"??

If a vindictive ex says you are violent, how do you disprove it?

Seems like an issue where any legislation will necessarily end up very biased towards either the accuser or the accused. I can't see how you can legislate a fair middle ground; it has to be assessed case by case.
Frankly there are some quite ridiculous comments in the petition.
yet we routinely sentence children to regular contact with parents they have seen beating another parent or who have abused them.
I absolutely reject that statement. The Family Court and Federal Magistrates court, in most cases that I am aware of, err on the side of caution with supervised contact. On What basis is this allegation made?
If you care about keeping children safe after separation or divorce, please find a moment to sign this petition.
Of course we care about keeping children safe. What a silly comment to make as it is obvious the vast majority want this as a given.

I refer to a news item and input from our esteemed colleague Michael Green QC now retired.
The Shared Parenting Council of Australia strongly supports all reasonable initiatives designed to protect women and children from violence.

At the same time the Council points out that the recent "exposure" of this subject in the SMH seriously understates the full extent of the problem of family violence. The Sydney Morning Herald articles in question limited the discussion to battering of wives by husbands this type of violence is indeed a serious matter, deserves condemnation and merits protective programs.

However, family violence is a more complex issue and includes also serious instances of female violence towards men, women and children. The incidence of maternal violence to children, both physical and emotional, is especially worrying yet attracts no media attention. The media have a duty of care to report accurately and the public have a right to know who are the real perpetrators and the real victims. The narrow focus of the SMH in reporting only mens violence against women ensures that the other groups affected by violence remain hidden from public view and leaves the vast majority of victims of violence without a voice and a campaign that speaks for them.

The claims by SMH journalist Ruth Pollard (Courts put kids at risk, 25/11/08), that changes to the Family Law Act are compelling courts to hand children over to violent fathers are false and scurrilous. These claims are an insult to judges and magistrates who apply the law and deal daily with serious relationship issues.

There are precise safeguards in the Act to exclude shared parenting and joint parental responsibility in cases where there are real issues of violence, conflict or abuse. The allegation that women are being "forced" into mediation with violent ex-partners is particularly mischievous. The Act does nothing of the kind, and mediators and community agencies have screening strategies to identify cases in which mediation is inappropriate.

We welcome the Federal Attorney General's statement that he is consulting with all stakeholders in examining the real effect of the shared parenting legislation. We urge him to reject the arguments of biased advocates, more concerned with advancing their own agendas than with the real interests of children and women. Reducing mothers to victim" status is a favoured strategy of radical feminists opposed to men and does nothing for the protection and welfare of women and children.

The Executive Secretary of the SPCA, Wayne Butler said, Recent judgements show clearly that it is a complete nonsense to suggest that the Family Law Act has in any way softened the approach of the judicial officers to cases of family violence and alleged violence. In particular I refer to Miller & Brass [2008] FamCA 944 (30 September 2008) and Short & Trevilian (No. 2) [2008] FamCA 215 (25 March 2008).

In both judgements, reference is made to the new Act, particularly with regard to the impacts of s60cc in these cases. The court acted to prevent exposure of the children to potential violence even though it was considered improbable that any violence would occur. The judgements in those cases make it crystal clear that safety and the interests of the child continue to be paramount.

The SPCA will suggest to the Attorney General that he consults widely with the judges, magistrates, lawyers, mediators and counsellors who deal regularly with separated families in and outside the courts. Reports that have come to our attention speak favourably of the application of the shared parenting legislation and the new collaborative approach to sound parenting post divorce.

We strongly suggest that nothing less than five years would provide adequate time, experience and material for a full and careful review of the effects of the reformed Family Law legislation.

We trust that the Attorney General will not be persuaded by anything less.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
Sunnyside said
How can a parent "prove they are safe"??

If a vindictive ex says you are violent, how do you disprove it?

Seems like an issue where any legislation will necessarily end up very biased towards either the accuser or the accused. I can't see how you can legislate a fair middle ground; it has to be assessed case by case.
 
I would have thought it relatively easy. Most parents have an extended circle of friends, relatives and acquaintances who come in contact with the child. Statements from them plus schools, child care centres showing no evidence or suspicion of abuse would be required. It is actually harder to prove violence as it is often hidden from public eyes.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
What I was getting at is that I don't think the onus should be on the accused to "prove" they are safe.

If I accused my ex of violence I would expect that in order to be taken seriously I should have to show some sort of evidence. I don't agree that I should just be able to say so and now it's his job to prove he's not.

I think it can tend to encourage malicious accusations if you aren't required to back them up.
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