"Bandage Parade" for family law casualties
Parents with bloodstained bandages, crutches, slings and dolls in prams with broken arms and bruised faces will walk to Parliament House to bring home the reality of Australia's shared parenting laws for many traumatised families.
The street theatre "Bandage Parade" will highlight the frequency of Australian children having contact with abusive parents after separation.
According to National Council for Children Post-Separation (NCCPS) spokesperson Barbara Biggs, "We have a systemic failure when more than 15,000 Australian children are ordered into ongoing contact with parents the court itself has deemed violent and abusive. This has happened because of hastily written shared parenting laws and the Family Court turning a blind eye to abuse when it comes to its duty of care for Australian children."
"You and I are paying $180/hr, the cost of supervision, to enable an abusive parent to terrorize their child for an hour or more a week," said Biggs. "If a parent is not safe to be alone with their child, it's not the child they need to see, it's a therapist,"
As one grandmother said: "My grandchildren told the court psychologist how they had to watch their father bash their mother, spit on her, drag her around by the hair and kick her with steel-toed boots - and then the court said go sit at the court-appointed contact office and have a meaningful access visit."
Teachers and childcare staff must pass police checks to work with children, yet known offenders - including paedophiles such as last week in Adelaide - are routinely handed their own children by court order.
The 15,000 mentioned above is only the tip of the iceberg. Many legal representatives are advising clients not to raise abuse allegations because doing so puts them at risk of losing custody if claims can't be proved. Chief Justice Diana Bryant said urgent changes were needed for this reason yet not even interim measures have been instigated so far.
According to a recent survey, 74 percent of the public believed allegations of abuse in custody cases were false and malicious where global research, including from Monash University, says more than 90 percent of allegations are true.
And a Sydney University researcher has found that perpetrators of domestic violence are using the shared parenting laws to further harass, intimidate and punish their fomer partners for leaving them.
A child given to his mother and her child porn addicted boyfriend; a child ordered to visit her father in jail after he attempted to murder her mother. Stories like these pour in to the NCCPS every day. Enough is enough. The system needs to be fixed before it becomes our national shame.
This rally follows a similar event held Monday 22 June in Canberra. At this event the NCCPS/Safer Family Law Campaign presented this research to several politicians including Parliamentarians Against Child Abuse and Neglect (PACAN) Helen Kroger, also Jenny George, Shayne Neumann, Pat Farer ad Louise Markus. The Attorney General has repeatedly refused to meet.
This particular event, the bandages parade, is about children ordered by the Family Court to have ongoing contact with a parent it has deemed abusive. However, bizarre decisions are being made, such as an Adelaide mother told to stop breast feeding her 7mth baby so overnight contact can start. This baby is already traveling three hours a day three times a week to visit dad.
Relocation issues, where parents who move away from family and support networks because of their spouses job can never return if the marriage breaks down in the new location.
Marchers can join the Bandage Parade at 10a.m, Thursday 25 June corner Martin Place and Castlereagh Street.
For more information contact Barbara Biggs on 0408 358 228, Convenor, National Council for Children Post-Separation www.saferfamilylaw.org.au