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FULL REPORT RELEASED: Independent Study of Australia's Independent Children's Lawyers

The findings of the Family Law Express Independent Children's Lawyer (ICL) study entitled "Neither Seen Nor Heard: Australia's Child Protection Conundrum".

Release of the Family Law Express Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) study: Full Report – released 13th November, 2015
In contrast to the generally positive findings of the Australian Government’s 2013 AIFS Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) Study, the findings of the Family Law Express Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) study  entitled “Neither Seen Nor Heard: Australia’s Child Protection Conundrum” has exposed the undeniably arduous state of current ICL practice in this country.

Read the Press Release

Read the full report
"only 6% of research participants in the AG sponsored AIFS report were parents, carers or children involved with an ICL"

The ICL is little more than a built-in hearsay witness for the mother. The greatest bludge in law. That money can be better spent elsewhere. Appoint a few more judges - FCC trial dates not available until 2017 - or provide more funding for SRL's.

Regarding the politicization of AG publications I note other infamous reports such as the Chisholm "Family Violence" report and the  AG website promoting the fraudulent McIntosh research  "A Cautionary Tale: against shared parenting"

The AG responsible, Robert McClelland, was sacked from his own cabinet. He was adopted as director of White Ribbon Australia (Michael Flood creditability) and then promoted to Judge in the  Family Court. I pity any man appearing before him.
How to get rid of your ICL

1.ICL predetermined the matter 1 day after appointment and without being in possession of all the evidence or indeed any evidence from the father and that he has lost his "objectivity" and therefore cannot represent child's interests or function as an "honest broker".

2. ICL gave 1 day notice to Father to provide all Court documents over a period of years, including that not yet written, threatened contravention proceedings if the father did not comply and bullied and humiliated the father into copying documents for him while the matter was stood down. The inference being that the ICL may have been "setting up" the father for contravention proceedings and prejudice by the Court.

3.ICL arranged to meet the mother and child without informing the father, who is on the record as a party self represented, and in fact refused to disclose the meeting when offered the opportunity by the father's direct email to him.

4. ICL fabricated that the father had requested, and had in fact made a formal complaint to VLA, that the ICL had not met with the child. Further the ICL alleged the Father was combative and aggressive to VLA such that VLA was considering prosecuting him. This was submitted to the Court. I note there was no complaint.

5. ICL fabricated that father wanted to bring a second ICL from his city.
ICL formed opinion based only on the mother's material - that the case was predetermined is self-evident from the minutes of orders sought by the ICL and the ambush used to submit it to the Court - while the SRL father was copying documents for the ICL.

6. ICL attempted to obtain from the Court an intervention order for the child and the mother without any evidence or cross-examination or forewarning or opportunity to the father to prepare any defence in circumstances where the same IO application for the child had been withdrawn by the mother from hearing in the Magistrates Court only a week before.

7. ICL contacted the Magistrate's Court hearing the mother's in progress IO - which might be perceived as attempting to pervert the course of justice.

8. ICL insists on pursuing a psychiatric report only on the father - which is the mother's request - but not the mother. This is despite being in court when the judge made clear that it was undeniable that the mother has a mental illness
9. ICL refuses to consider the possibility of the mother's mental illness contaminating the child and that contamination being a danger to the child and the root cause of the child's rejection of father.

10 ICL requested 12 subpoenas - digging for evidence against the father.

11 Attempt to delay family report paid wholly by the father as a matter of urgency by 3 extra months.

12 ICL view is that family report is not urgent - acting for the mother. Father would not have contact with child for 7 months before assessment of parent-child interaction.. The family report would be rendered nugatory. ICL acting to manipulate proceedings in favour of the mother.
13. ICL to the father "I don't give a fvck about your forensic psychiatrist reports, I don't know them in this Court; that during hearings the independent children's lawyer is "continually interjecting, rolling his eyes at the SRL father, sighs rudely at submissions made by father, shakes his head in disagreement, passed notes to the opposing barrister and "laughing and pointing" to what had been written and otherwise disrupting the father in submission such that the SRL father finally had to stop and ask him to be quite; all of which can only be described as "bitchy schoolgirl antics designed to intimidate and upset the SLR father"

14 After the hearing in which the ICL was defeated on every single proposed order of the 17 submitted in addition to 3 Notations the ICL told the father "don't even speak to me".

15 The father had requested the ICL withdraw due to secretly interviewing the child while a family violence hearing was part heard in another Court in which the child is an aggrieved family member on the father's interim IO. The ICL would now be called as a witness. As a witness for a party the ICL could not be independent. He must withdraw
16. The ICL waited in the street outside the court to confront the father. He harangued the father about a secret recording and told him to get a lawyer.

17. The ICL now denies he called the court involved in the in- progress IO. He accuses the father in writing of asserting that the ICL was biased and should withdraw - no mention of the real reason.

From AIFS report on ICL's
Obviously there are circumstances where I don't meet the children, particularly where there are ongoing investigations, for example, by the Department for Child Protection or the police

3.4.1 Family Violence and abuse cases
Two key concerns about engaging directly with children in these cases. The first is the possibility that speaking with the child may result in disclosures of child abuse being made that would mean the ICL would have to provide evidence to the court about them and relinquish their ICL position.

Sorry srldad101,call me thick…….but are those 17 events you listed all pertaining to the one single matter ?
I think I read them to be but wished to clarify for peace of mind.
Hi anonymoususername

All events pertain to a single matter indeed mostly one hearing. There have only been two.  

I walked into the courtroom at 9.30am for the continuation of a defended interim hearing started 3 weeks earlier to be ambushed by the newly appointed, over my objection,  ICL bullying his way into the proceedings (and snout into the legal aid trough) and confronting me with already prepared minutes for orders that would reduce me to cards approved by him and 1 gift at Christmas and jailed without warrant and without bail simply by accusation. I had never met him or spoken with him. I have had shared care orders for 9 years.

When I tried to walk away the ICL literally chased me around the courtroom yelling  "don't you dare walk away from me". He opposed the matter being stood down for me to seek advice from the duty solicitor.

I've had two ICL's before, both opposed the family reports in my favor to support the mother, thereby prolonging and escalating the matter. However, they were nothing compared to this bloke - one of the most senior lawyers on the ICL panel.

I detailed above what happened to show how out of control and unaccountable these over-empowered supposedly independent "honest brokers" are.

Their real purpose is to victimize and gang up with the opposition to force the other party - inevitably the father - into submission and settlement before trial. This frees up the Court's time for more business and saves the judge from having to make an appealable decision. Again bad for business.

The ICL is incredibly hard to get rid of because they are protected by the judge whom they in turn protect. I have not yet found any caselaw of their successful removal. This is why I read the AIFS report and why any proposed family law reform needs to include the provision

"2. introduce legislation to enable each parent in a divorce to have the appointed ICL permanently dismissed without cause at least once"

If the ICL actually had to work with the parents under threat of removal rather than acting like a hubristic Greek god playing with peoples lives for amusement then their power and abuse of it would be immediately curtailed.

Read an interesting comment on another site that might be appropriate in circumstances where the ICL has prematurely revealed his position.

" refuse to cooperate with whatever they say, don't prove your innocence make them prove your guilty, take whatever but refuse to cooperate with the system, when your rights get violated, then that's when you strike, file tort claims and whatever else, make them pay for their ignorance, take a stand to not play their game… Really I'm not sure what to do but that's what I'm gonna do, not going to settle for nothing less than what is right, whether it gets me incarcerated or not."
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