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No Way to Live report: Reply - 'No way to conduct research'

No way to conduct research !
27 June 2010

One of the best replies to an article deserves a headline and news item.

The news item No Way to Live has had the web site running hot and calls to the SPCA in regard to a formal response to the Minister in NSW.

The following response penned by 4mydaughter has had readers calling to agree.

Read the detailed response for yourself and make further comments as may be required.

Perhaps Dr Laing's "No way to Live Report" should be retitled "No way to conduct research"!

One would have to question the validity of research findings with a sample size of only 22 subjects. I'd also be interested to know how Dr. Laing select her sample of subjects.

Another issue  did Dr. Laing verify the a subjects claims by reviewing their evidence presented in their respective Family Law Court proceedings? I guess that would be pointless because her subjects didn't raise domestic violence concerns as an issue for consideration in their respective matters. Is there any evidence corroborating the claims of Dr. Laing subjects? Or is the 'study' based on subjective rants from jilted parents who didn't get their way or simply resent their former partners?

Regardless, how does the failure of Dr. Laing subjects to raise domestic violence concerns reflect poorly on the Family Court or the Family Law Act? Id argue it doesnt. Failure by her subjects not to raise domestic violence concerns with the Court is their responsibility - and to a lesser extent - their lawyers.

At the end of the day - lawyers act upon instructions from their clients. If a parent fails to disclosure information to the Court with respect matters effecting the welfare of a child (including domestic violence) - and I note parties ARE REQUIRED to disclosure all information relevant to the welfare of a child - that parent is responsible for putting their child at risk of harm through non-disclosure. Not the Court. Not the 'friendly parent' element of the Act. The parent.

In Family Law child-related proceedings - one of the very first questions a Judge or Magistrate will ask is - "Are there any domestic violence orders or restraining orders in place with respect the parties or their children?".

Question 13, Part B of the Family Court's compulsory Parenting Questionnaire seeks the following information:

Have you or any person with whom the child resides or has contact:
- been involved in child welfare proceedings
- been found to have breached orders
- committed an offence under the Family Law Act? If so, please provide details.

Question 14, Part B the Parenting Questionnaire asks the following:

Are there any current Family Violence Orders in the State or Territory in which you are currently residing or any other State or Territory, or have there been any in the past which affect you or any of the children in this case? If so, please provide details.

Question 17 Part B of the Part B the Parenting Questionnaire asks the following:

Do you have any other concerns about your safety or the childrens safety other than while attending court? If yes, what are those concerns?

On the front cover of the Parenting Questionnaire, parents are reminded of their obligation to make frank and full disclosures as follows:

You have a duty to the Court and each other party under Rule 13.01 of the Family Law Rules to give full and frank disclosure of all information relevant to the case in a timely manner.

Furthermore, immediately below questionnaire offers the following:

Some tips for completing this Questionnaire
1.   DO raise any concerns you may have about your own or your childrens safety with the judge at the earliest possible moment

Presumably, all of Dr Laing's 22 subjects failed to disclosure domestic violence concerns to the Family Court in their respective questionnaires. Furthermore, Dr. Laings subjects withheld information for the Court in violation of Rule 13.01. And the question begs, How can the Family Court or the Act be held accountable for the failure of Dr. Laings subjects to make full and frank disclosure to the Court in their respective Parenting Questionnaires pursuant of Rule 13.01?

Did any of Dr. Laing's 22 subjects initiate proceedings in a Local or Magistrates court to obtain restraining orders in relation to domestic violence? If any did, presumably this information was withheld from the Family Court. However, its more likely that there were no restraining orders in place as this would have been difficult to conceal this information from the Family Court.

On the surface it would appear that Dr Laing's subjects failed to take any meaningful action with respect their alleged domestic violence concerns what-so-ever.

The absence of family violence restraining orders, or Local and Magistrates Court proceedings, brings into disrepute the veracity and seriousness of the domestic violence claims advanced by Dr Laing's 22 subjects.

I question the veracity of domestic violence concerns raise by Dr Laing's subjects.

Over the course of the last 4 years, I have attended 100 or more Family Court matters at the Sydney registry. I represented myself in Family Court matters involving abuse allegations. Im not a lawyer. My observations of the Family Court, Judges and Magistrates are that they generally deal with matters involving domestic violence allegations effectively and appropriately.

A court being a court, arrives at a final determination after testing the evidence presented to the court. Family Courts can only deal with evidence presented to it. If a party fails to disclosure information  or indeed withhold information - how can the Family Court, the Family Law Act, Judges or Magistrates be held responsible for this? The essence of Dr. Laings findings are illogic and total nonsense!

Dr. Laing didn't conduct a study of any meaning or relevance.

Dr. Laing has provided some highly questionable data used by a lobby group to validate a piece of propaganda for political purposes. These types of attacks on the Family Court and the Act are unhelpful, annoying and do not advance in any meaningful way the welfare or interests of children in relation to domestic violence.

Dr. Laings research undermines the interests of children by further advancing the myth that parents do not have recourse in Family Law to address domestic violence risks and puts children at risk of harm.

This type of ill conceived research - and I apply the term 'research' rather generously Dr. Laings study - brings into disrepute the quality of research projects undertaken by the University of Sydney's Faculty of Education & Social Work.

This study merely demonstrates Dr. Laings ''unsophisticated'' understanding of her subject matter and deficiencies in her capacity to produce meaningful research.

They must be giving PhDs away these days because this is not the standard of research one could reasonably expect from a senior lecturer at a prestigious Australian university.

Perhaps Dr Laing should have popped over to the Law Faculty to sense check her research before publishing this stuff.

Dr. Laing needs to "acknowledge and take responsibility for the harm" caused to children by propagating and advancing the myth - fuelling the misconception - that parents cant express concerns for the welfare of their children in the Family Court.

And yet another article published by Adele Horin with any critical thought or evaluation applied.

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