At the end of February 2023, the Labor Party unexpectedly introduced changes to the Family Law Act, without any pre-warning or discussion.
A Sense of Place Magazine is publishing this submission in particular because of the one-sided nature of the debate. In the loopy world of Australia’s social policy, anyone standing up for the interests of fathers is derided, pilloried or ignored, with fathers groups getting virtually no coverage in the government’s handmaidens in the mainstream media and little chance of getting their voice heard.
Yet in the brutalist world of Australian family law and child support, it is fathers who are most damaged, in many cases seeing their lives utterly ruined and their children fatherless.
We have previously editorialised that the Australian government is holding a public inquiry into family law about which the public know almost nothing: “The Australian government is winding back modest reforms which encouraged the inclusion of fathers in their children’s lives post-separation.
“While the Australian Labor government has painted itself as inclusive, waging a major and extremely expensive campaign to include a ‘Voice’ to parliament for indigenous people, and the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has made history by marching in Sydney’s famous gay and lesbian Mardi Gras, there’s another much disparaged group which are copping the full hostility of the state — divorced fathers.
“While battling a multi-billion government funded industry celebrating the breakdown of the traditional family unit, Sue Price has unfashionably been one of the single most courageous women in the country, battling a multibillion government funded industry preying on divorcing families, including courts, massive funding of women’s groups, and a huge domestic industry painting all men as violent patriarchal abusers.”
Sue Price, with her late husband Reg, founded the Men’s Rights Agency in 1994 after witnessing the terrible plight of the male employees in their retail business, many of whom were caught in the web of Australia’s utterly dysfunctional Child Support Agency and many others who were heart broken at the loss of contact with their children thanks to the abusive practices inherent in Australia’s outdated family law.
As the Australian government pours billions into feminist advocacy, men caught in the nightmare web of false allegations and the shockingly dishonest practices that characterise the family law and domestic violence industries receive nothing. While members of the country’s tax payer funded femocracy congratulate each other on their courage, it takes genuine courage to run against the tide.
Below is the submission from the Men’s Rights Agency, written by Sue Price.
We were allowed less than a month to draft and submit our response. How can that time frame allow for due consideration of proposals to virtually remove fathers from their children’s lives?
Certainly, this issue was not presented as a policy change prior to the last election. We question
whether Labor would have achieved enough votes to become the party controlling the Australian
Federal Parliament if they had declared their intention to change the focus of the Family Law Act to
remove the shared parenting concept. We doubt it!
Many fathers, grandparents, other relatives and supportive friends have advised us of their extreme
disappointment and devastation that their children/grandchildren, nieces and nephews will not be
able to have a good continuing relationship with those closest to them.
However, we have been given a second opportunity to present our views to the Senate Committee
assessing the Labor Party’s Family Law Reform legislation, which intends to completely roll back the
concept of shared parental responsibility and shared parenting amongst other damaging proposals.
Our first submission, which is now belatedly available on the Family Law Reform Department pages
deals with the ongoing affects and benefits of shared parenting to the Australian community i.e.
reduced number of marriages and births, increasing numbers of false allegations, many men leaving
for overseas countries, youth violence attributable to living in fatherless homes and increased
suicides of men deprived of their ability to parent their children.
I say belatedly, because officialdom decided to censure our submission and redacted two photos used to emphasise the points we are making. The front page with the heading, “Bye Daddy, I Love you” was of a young girl being hugged goodbye by her father with his suitcase by his side and the mother looking on. The second photo on page 7 related to the murder of children, one group of 3 children and their mother (not shown) killed by their father and the second 4 children killed by the mother.
I advised the FLR Department that we held a licence for the front-page photo and the other was widely available on Facebook.
After a 6 week delay our submission was re-published with the front-page photo displayed; the page photo was still redacted.
Another submission from the International Council on Shared Parenting was also not published on-
line until much later.
We can only assume this was because their comments contradicted Labor’s presumptions. The government relied on the findings of the ALRC and the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System as the basis for the proposed repeal of the presumption of Shared Parental Responsibility.
In point of fact, neither organisation supported this proposal.
The ALRC Report recommended clarification of the presumption noting Shared Parental Responsibility had sometimes been conflated with a presumptive entitlement to equal shared care notwithstanding
explanatory notes in the Act. This misunderstanding was a result of the media interpreting the
changes as automatically granting shared parenting time.
We now ask the question why these radical changes are thought to be necessary. Certainly, the
Explanatory Memorandum for Lionel Murphy’s 1975 Family Law bill detailed the basic principle “that
both parties are guardians of their children under 18 and have the joint custody of the children” and
“the court shall regard the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration” as specified in the
current Family Law Act as the “best interests of the child”.
Senator Missen (Lib) had this to say on 29 October 1974: “It would create the concept of Joint Custody
under the law.”
Twenty years later, during the debate for the 1995 Family Law Reform Bill, the Hon. Peter Duncan MP
(Lab), in his role as the Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for carriage of the Bill, in his telling
clarification of the intent of the legislation said the following in his second reading speech: “The original intention of the late Senator Murphy was that the Family Law Act would create a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting, but over the years the Family Court has chosen to ignore that. It is hoped that these reforms will now call for much closer attention to this presumption and that the Family Court will give full and proper effect to the intention of the parliament.”
Clearly, there was bipartisan support for this bill in 1975 and continued through to the addition of
Shared Parental Responsibility in 2006.
As Geoffrey Greene from the Shared Parenting Council of Australia wrote: “For decades we have
been led to believe that our country’s system of administration and management of families experiencing separation and breakdown is low-cost, just, equitable, and dignified.
The Parliament has told us, the people, that it would be based on a shared parenting presumption, and that these would be the expected outcomes from the Family Court.
Despite the modest reforms that the Howard Liberal government implemented in 2006 to reinstate the
will of Parliament over recalcitrant agencies and the opposing family court, it is obvious that nothing
has changed, and this is a problem that is occupying the electorate offices of Federal MPs across our
As a Prime Minister, John Howard was most unusual in his passion for social issues, his
famous “barbecue stoppers” and his willingness to speak about the role of fathers in families are
Once the 2006 proposal for Shared Parental Responsibility leading to shared parenting time, where
possible, became a reality, the women’s groups were galvanised into action when a father threw his
daughter off the Westgate Bridge10. No mention was made of the mother who 12 months prior had
strapped her 22-month-old child to her chest and jumped off the same bridge.
She had taken their lives because she was scared, she would lose care of their child to the father, but ironically, the father had no intention of petitioning the court for residency.
The only critical comment at that time was related to the failure to jump-proof the bridge. Then more recently, we experienced the terrible incident of the father who set fire to his children and their mother.
Again little mention has been made of a mother who killed 7 of her own children and a niece in Cairns or the mother who drove her car into a truck killing her 4 children.
There are many more instances of women killing their ex-partner and/or their children that can be
cited if we wish to go down that track, but we don’t. We just want to highlight the discrimination
that occurs in reporting such tragedies i.e. if a man kills then it’s front-page news and follow up
articles describing every horrendous piece of information that can be published. If a woman kills, perhaps on the gutter of page 4 with discussion slanted toward her suffering from a mental health problem is the result, thereby minimising the seriousness of her offence.
As an aside, the result of this fearmongering, women are no longer independent and able to cope
with their own situation, quite contrary to the intentions of feminism in the 60s and 70s. Instead,
they now become paralysed with fear that encourages them to reach for the domestic violence
services when all that may be taking place is a disagreement.
Couples do disagree, as is their right and a sign of a healthy relationship: if such arguments result in agreement good or perhaps they result in “We’ll agree to disagree” also good. Perhaps the Government should consider the damage they are causing when allowing domestic violence operatives to exaggerate the statistics and cause unjustifiable fear in the women they are reaching.
False allegations of domestic violence flourish in this climate. No man is safe from the easily made
accusation and issuing of domestic family violence orders. Once served with the interim order issued
by a magistrate, where evidence, if there is any, has not been tested, they will find themselves
banished from their home, lose access to their funds and possessions, perhaps lose their job, and
removed from their paternal role of loving and caring for their children.
At the later hearing to validate the decision to then issue a 2 or 5 year DV order, the magistrate
needs to make a decision on the balance of probabilities after listening to, questioning and reading
the available evidence as to whether a domestic family violence order should be continued or not.
We hear many reports of men being silenced/muted and not allowed to speak or present any
evidence in their favour. It is not unusual to hear of men, who are applying for an order to protect
themselves and their children, being castigated in the first instance by the magistrate because
he/she has not read the application form correctly, instead relying on their overwhelming
expectation that the applicant will be a woman.
Indoctrination and brainwashing resulting in significant bias would appear to flourish in Australia’s magistrates’ courts, due we suspect, because of the intense educational process to instruct the judiciary as to the suffering of women subjected to domestic violence whilst ignoring male victims.
Men are frequently persuaded, by the police prosecutor, the magistrate, the Legal Aid duty lawyer
or even their own lawyer to accept an order without admissions.
The man will still leave court with a DV order preventing contact with the ex and his children if they have been included in the order for the next 2 or 5 years! Nobody tells them that this could lead to a criminal offence if the ex-partner decides to make a complaint against him. It is also a great disadvantage as future court hearings will lead with the information that he is a perpetrator of domestic violence. As such he can also be prevented from gaining a Blue Card (working with children), or a licence where he is expected to be armed such as in the security services or the armed forces etc.
We have noticed during recent years that men trying to defend a domestic violence application or
trying to prosecute their own application will find their hearing repeatedly adjourned, some as many
as 10 – 15 times. Obviously, this leads to a man walking away, having given up or run out of money
to pay his legal fees. We are not proposing that genuine domestic family violence should be ignored. No, it shouldn’t, but there are criminal laws covering arrest, charging, and the requirement for a full hearing before a judge/magistrate to determine innocence or guilt and then if the latter is established then issuing a suitable penalty. Other allegations of a verbal nature or psychological issues would be better served by referral to a psychologist/counsellor.
Thirty years of propaganda about domestic family violence has been used to manipulate and skew
the results provided to politicians and the public who are unaware of the level of violence,
sometimes resulting in death, perpetrated against children and their fathers by their mother,
stepfather, mother’s boyfriend or others encouraged to take up the attack on behalf of the mother.
Mothers kill more children than biological fathers.
The questions to uncover such abuse often remain unasked and unanswered and
there is an overwhelming suggestion that children are assumed to be safe with their
mother. Sadly, this is not always the case.
Statistical evidence gathered by family protection services in each state is uncoordinated (using
different terminology to define victims, relationships and identity of perpetrators)16 and is rarely
released in its entirety.
West Australian Department of Child Protection has proven to be the exception with the findings
that 73% of child abuse is committed by the mother.
Mothers are more likely than fathers to neglect and emotionally and physically abuse their children,
information obtained under freedom of information laws reveals.
But figures from the WA Department for Child Protection show substantiated cases of child sexual
abuse against fathers still far outnumber those against mothers.
The data shows that parents were the perpetrators in almost 39 per cent of the 1505 substantiated
cases of child abuse in 2007-08. Of the 582 cases of abuse by parents, mothers were responsible for
73 per cent, while fathers committed 27 per cent.
False Allegations – Magellan Hearings
At this point it would be of interest to reiterate the comments of a family court judge involved with
the Magellan Hearings, which handle allegations of physical or sexual harm to children. He
commented to researcher Dr Daryl Higgins from Australian Institute of Family Studies about the
number of cases that resulted in fathers being reunited with their children saying: “I have a sense that in the overwhelming majority of cases, abuse is not confirmed. And probably in not many cases is there found to be an unacceptable risk. I don’t have the stats, so it’s probably silly of me to quote stats, but I’m talking of probably upwards of 70 or 80% where the relationship with the father is restored. Which, in itself, is a worry if that is true.
Why are so few being confirmed? Is it mum—usually—using it as a weapon to get dad out
of the kid’s life? Is it mum misidentifying the signals and then not accepting professional
advice as to what it might really mean?
This is clearly an area that needs more investigation and clarification to determine the number of false allegations being made.
Family Violence Homicide
Statistics19 tell us one woman is murdered every 6 days in a domestic homicide, but one man loses
his life as a result of domestic homicide every 8 days. Do we really accept that a difference of 2 days
is enough to ignore the violence committed by women or instigated against the man by another
willing to do her bidding? Are their lives not just as important?
If we had the contacts and the funding to engage with a willing media, as do the women’s groups we
could point to many incidents of women abusing and killing their partners and/or their children.
Campaign by women and their supporters to defeat the Shared Parenting Principles
As a result of the continuous complaints of women’s spokespersons, with the assistance of the
media, they have called for increasingly draconian provisions as if the tragedies mentioned above
are a certain indication of what all men are capable of and willing to do. There is no evidence of
this! The judiciary are also made to share the blame with accusations that they are giving fathers,
who might be dangerous, access to their children.
Zoe Rathus is a senior lecturer at the Griffith University Law School and co-director of the Clinical Legal
Education Program and she writes, “This article has been long in gestation. I wish to thank Juliet
Behrens for her patient mentoring and support and the following clever people who have contributed
comments and ideas: Helen Rhoades; Kathleen Daly; Susan Armstrong; Heather Douglas; Graham
Mullane; Rachael Field; and Belinda Fehlberg. The article is based on a paper delivered at the World
Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights in Halifax, Canada, August, 2009”.
Above we appear to have a comprehensive sample of the women who seem to intensely dislike the
thought that any father should be allowed to participate in their children’s upbringing. Everything one
reads from this group is about domestic and family violence against women and children only. No
mention of violence perpetrated against men. This is by no means a complete list. There are many
more women who agree with the thoughts expressed by Ms Rathus, but we have a growing number
of women, who understand the destruction caused to their sons, their families and their grandchildren
and are beginning to speak out in protest.
This paper does its best to demean and diminish social science findings that have clearly found
parental alienation exists and children do much better after separation in a shared care environment.
As can be seen their paper Social Science or “Lego Science”? Presumptions, Politics, Parenting and the
new Family Law is very dismissive of shared parental responsibility and blames the 2006 Family Law
Act for contributing “to inappropriate, and even damaging, post-separation parenting arrangements
for some children”.
The author suggests that the “presumption and its legislative link to equal and substantially shared care time orders have created a ‘lego science’ that shared parenting is almost always good for children, but this lego-science is a pseudo science which is not consistent with the complex reported social science about shared parenting.”
Children have the right to know and be cared for by both their parents, regardless of
whether their parents are married, separated, have never married or have never lived
together; and children have a right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a
regular basis with, both their parents and other people significant to their care, welfare and
development, including grandparents and relatives.
If these family law changes are brought in we predict far more children will be drastically affected by
the loss of a parent, usually their father; more children will turn to the local street gangs in place of
missing support in their depleted family; more mothers will find it hard to cope with children and
their care without the support of the other parent who loves his children; more men will suicide as
they are removed from their children’s lives and false allegations of domestic violence and sexual
assault will increase as it becomes easier and easier to gain a DV order.
To find a full list of studies which show the benefits of shared parenting for children and to counter the level of taxpayer funded misinformation we are seeing on the issue go to the Men’s Rights Submission on the government website here.