Family Violence Best Practice Principles: The Family Court’s Private Joke
The media Release:
If you have a chance to properly view the Judgments listed on the Family Court website, you have become a witness to the true gender bias that exists within its realms.
Any average person can to a count of demeaning statements about the mother verses the father and guaranteed to find more mothers are heavily criticized than fathers. Any expert can read through and establish a major case that Family Law is negligent towards victims of intimate partner terrorism and child abuse. Family Violence was mean to incorporate children and describe both sexes inclusive of the patriarchal violence, but also of the emerging few violence against men cases.
There is a very good reason why this small population of male victims would not relate or get involved in the Fathers Lobby groups of today and that is because they seek to undermine victims and have values that abuse should be ignored and punished. What is appalling is when abusive men get on their bandwagon, play the plight of their previous victim or in most cases victims and twist her means of defense into “she was violent to me”. In one case, a man was choking her as she struggled to free him and left marks on his wrists. He threatened to go to the police station if she did not keep it quiet. Shelter workers have seen this as a common behavior as a way to camouflage their behavior.
This does make it very difficult for real victims especially of the small male population who do actually experience it. It’s rare because there is still a broad prevalence of male power. We can see this from the numbers in leadership positions, legislation for men opposed to women and ingrained within religion and culture to know which gender holds the reigns in our society. Over the years equality has improved but we are not even half way there. Even some government funded Family organizations promote Men as the heads of the Families which is what empirical research has defined as the culture of intimate partner violence.
It is the reason why statistics reveal that one in three women experience Violence at least once in their life time. It is also a major health concern for women as the one of the highest rates of death and disability. The leading cause of death in pregnant women is intimate partner terrorism.
In a Melbourne Family Court hearing where they have just had new family violence laws implemented, the judge grants unsupervised visitation and shared responsibility for the child despite the risks. The orders include that the child’s surname is not changed and the fathers surname is registered with the school and all other events. Enrolling under a different surname was a safety strategy that ensured that the mother and child could engage with the school without being stalked. Furthermore, the orders enforce that the mother must notify him if she is planning to relocate to another suburb that is outside the schools area, the reasons for moving. In other words, “We give you legal permission to stalk your ex, wherever she goes for as long as she cares for the child”. The next part is quite negligent to the child’s health as it restrains the mother from taking the child to the doctor without his permission.
“15. THAT both parents are restrained from taking or permitting the child to be seen
by any treating health professional, save for any medical emergency or routine
illness without the prior written agreement of the other party or Court order.”
For the best interests of the court, she is restrained from obtaining evidence of abuse that might jeopardize the courts position on negligence in their decision. It ensures that their bank accounts are free from future litigation from the child when they realize that the court knew and could have done something. They can then say – “But there is no medical evidence after our order was made”. This appears to be a protective aspect, but how this manifests in an abusive situation is more often detrimental:
“THAT the parents are to keep each other advised of any illness or injury
sustained by the child whilst in their care and provide full particulars of any
treatment received or required by him together with the name and contact
details of any medical provider.”
How would you feel if your dad was abusing you and you thought that by telling, they could protect you – only to find that the court not only sends you back there, but discloses to your abuser that you told? The threats he might have made to keep the secret are now your worst nightmare. This is a reality for many children and those who survive to adulthood are greater champions than our Olympians, especially with such laws. Its as if they do not want these children to make it alive. Perhaps they hope that they do not survive for their ever grown fear to the extent of paranoia that one day – Their decisions will catch up with them sooner or later. Perhaps one day they land in a nursing home, dependent on old age and powerless to live without the help of others and the children that they judged upon are all grown up. Perhaps a staff member is being abusive or negligent to them and the only witness happens to be the child that they ignored. Are they going to say something or let them suffer? As human beings there are times in all of our lives where our positions are not always as powerful, but in those times we hope that we are treated by the more powerful with dignity and respect.
Against the Convention of the rights of the child, the child is not only left out of the decision making, but not even allowed to be informed:
“THAT both parents be restrained from:-
a. discussing the Family court proceedings with the child”
The child not had been made aware of the legal decisions that impacts on their day to day life are not being disclosed. They may grow up blaming their mother for “putting her in that situation” as many youths already have proclaimed.
This is what the Judge describes at the top as the issues:
“The mother and father are before the court for a determination of parental
responsibility and the extent of time that the father should spend with their son
S who is 6 years of age. There are many accompanying specific issues
including a request by the mother to change the child’s school and surname and
unfortunately with a background history of family violence and limited parental
He admits to their being a background of Family Violence, provides various laws and case examples to justify his negligence toward the mother and the child. Even the most basic safety measure of having the changeover at the police station is denied here:
“The father seeks a continuation at
the McDonald's store at E but the mother very strongly requires the changeover
to be at or inside of the K police station.”
“The final submission of the
Independent Children's Lawyer strongly supported any non-school changeover
to be at the McDonald's store on the basis that it is a public place, with security
cameras and a reasonable child friendly atmosphere. The police station was
said to be a totally inappropriate venue.”
I have never heard of fifteen year old staff at McDonalds whom are paid at minimum wage to have any training in security and most likely would not know what to do if he was violence, other than offering him a free hamburger to “keep the peace”. In Australia, one of the major political issues has been of childhood obesity so much that they have banned junk food ads, including McDonalds during children’s prime time television hours. The children’s lawyer has recommended it as a “Child – friendly atmosphere”. The average consensus on healthy eating is that junk food for children should be at the most eaten once a month, some health practitioners recommend that children who are or at risk of obesity, should not have junk food at all. At least the police station are trained and often have an officer with experience and knowledge on domestic violence on duty. Another barrier to proving the violence and risks.
“I record that I have read the documents and the exhibits of
the mother in that regard, and of the responses thereto. Some of the annexed
documents were not properly before the court and were not addressed in
evidence or relied upon. “
Here the judge attempts to wash his hands of any future blood being spilled, by blaming the mothers lack of formal procedure, despite this decision being made in division 12A, where the court must be less formal and focused on the child.
“As to the father it is evident that he
lacks a proper level of understanding of his actions and certainly there were
occasions where the evidence highlighted that he acted in an inflammatory and
intimidatory manner towards the mother. On many occasions he brought upon
himself issues and conflict and certainly in that regard he is both insensitive
and somewhat immature”
Another part where the violence towards the mother is verified.
The next paragraph is where the judge fails to act and lazily relies on the Family Consultants opinion which is more often than not in the favor of the abuser(Please see article on debunks custody diagnosis and abc’s report on PAS):
“70. The father sought five nights in each fortnight, together with school holiday
periods and other specific occasions. He rejected a single block of time in each
fortnight, such as the mother offered four consecutive nights (Thursday –
Sunday) each fortnight. He emphasized the regularity of time that he needed to
spend with the child and the benefit to the child of regular and meaningful
FamCA Reasons Page 20
overnight contact occasions each week. This situation was supported by the
Again, the judge does not take this aspect seriously, despite a medical practitioners evidence.
“I record that the mother made very general allegations against the father of
alcohol consumption and abuse, and that he had contracted sexually transmitted
diseases and had been referred to or contacted by the Department of Human
Services in that regard. I have no evidence, though there was some vague
reference made by her to documents generally subpoenaed to court through a
medical practitioner but there was no cross-examination of or disclosure of
these documents or issues to the court. I therefore do not accept her complaints
on these issues.”
Below is a paragraph of evidence of the impact the violence has had on her, but it is viewed as a concern of the mothers ability, rather than properly intervening on the root cause of the traumas: Clearly, the court has done nothing but exacerbate this situation and amplify the distress for the child not only suffering from abuse, but watching their mother determinate from the circumstances.
“The history of the mother as provided by her recorded that she had been treated
with antidepressant medication for six months in 1999 and again in 2005. She
suffered panic attacks triggered by arguments with the father and she would
manage her feelings of helplessness or an inability to cope by resorting to
alcohol or by going to bed.”
Part of the dynamics in intimate partner terrorism is spiritual abuse a factor that is not always present but does occur. Here the father denies that the mother was a catholic, but little investigation as to whether he had stopped her from practicing. The next part is appaulling in how the judge ignores family violence measures and gives into what the father wants:
106. Dealing with the issue of family violence the mother’s evidence was that:
“The father has exposed [the child] to family violence – he has yelled,
screamed and physically pushed me in front of [the child]”.
107. That evidence of the mother supports the outcome of the family violence
intervention order and is no doubt very similar to evidence given to and upon
which the Magistrate must have relied. I certainly accept that the father has
behaved improperly and in a loud, abusive and aggressive manner on previous
occasions and that is wholly inappropriate and indeed deplorable when enacted
in the presence of the child. I have considered and balanced all aspects of
family violence in my ultimate determination of appropriate parenting and
108. Notwithstanding all of the complaints of the mother directed towards the father
what was clear from her evidence, and from that of the Family Consultants, is
that the father does enjoy a very good and balanced relationship with the child
who is clearly very comfortable and relaxed in his father’s presence. The
caveat placed by the mother upon that evidence was that “the relationship
FamCA Reasons Page 26
could be better”. My observation is that, if the relationship between both
parents and the child is to further improve, it needs a marked change in the
attitude and demeanour of both parents, a more civil and relaxed environment
and the finality of all court proceedings.
He then blames her for the violence:
“I conclude that she
has thus acted on occasions to somewhat provoke and escalate conflict and
issues, but with her ultimate aim in mind. She is bitter and resentful towards
the father and unfortunately fails to acknowledge or have any real
understanding of the impact upon the child of the tension, turmoil and parental