By Sue Price: Men’s Rights Agency

Australia’s left wing Labor government has struck a major blow against separated dads wishing to help parent the children they love, proposing to remove any hope that father’s might get some reasonable outcome as they suffer through the enormous distress of our dysfunctional family law system.

The game is always rigged. Men always lose. Children suffer.

There is a reason why family law, and its demon sister child support are utterly despised by millions of Australians. They are a lawyer’s festival and a citizen’s nightmare which have absolutely nothing to do with the welfare of children.

Australia’s Attorney General Mark Dreyfus has released a draft bill which he claims is aimed at “improving the safety of separating families and simplifying the test for what parenting arrangement is best for children”. In other words the channel house of Australian family law has been turned into a conveyer belt with even less humanity than before.

In other words it cements into Australia’s welfare state the single mother as sole custodian of her children, with all the known and well demonstrated negative consequences of children growing up without their fathers.

Dreyfus promised to legislate in 2023. The bill removes the presumption of equal shared “parental responsibility”. The requirement for courts to consider “equal or substantial and significant time with each parent” will also be removed.

The bill removes the current test for custody requiring consideration of two primary factors “the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents”.

In 2006 the Howard government introduced the Shared Parenting principles in the Australian Family Law Act. For the first time since the introduction of the Family Law Act in 1975 it was recognised both parents were important to their children despite their separation and once shared parental responsibility was attributed then the Judge had to consider shared parent time or substantial contact.

At the time one of The Sydney Morning Herald’s most senior and experienced reporters Paola Totaro called the decision to re-look at joint custody as humane and long overdue asking: “How can we, as a civilised society, continue to suggest that capable men do not have the same rights to bring up their children, post-divorce, as their female partners?   And how can we women who quite rightly expect and enjoy an equitable arrangement both in parenting and in the domestic environment inside marriage then argue that post-divorce, only motherhood is sacrosanct?”

She joined many other commentators, both men and women, calling for an end to toxic and prolonged disputes after separation and to the extreme antediluvian “all men are bastards” feminism which infested the ancien régime of family law.

Now Labor wants to roll it all back to the dark days of children not seeing their other parent and giving credence to women who seek the benefit of false family violence claims to strengthen their applications for 100% care of their children and a majority of the property settlement in Family Court.

During a 2017 study into Australians’ attitude to violence against women and gender equality.

Women going through custody 43% of participants agreed that women often make up or exaggerate claims of domestic violence in order to improve their case.

Every time the Australian Labor Party is in power they make the Family Law/Divorce/Custody WORSE FOR MEN/FATHERS!

Always: There are 1000 of examples. The first is Whitlam, Prime Minister from 1972 to 1975, who created the Family Court of Australia, bringing in no-fault divorce ostensibly to stop parents flinging mud at each other in prolonged and enormously damaging custody disputes. In practice the changes simply meant that all fault now lay with the father. The most heartless was when Rudd/Gillard reversed the modest changes made by Howard to ever-so-slightly move the pendulum back toward fairness for men/fathers and their children.

Since Whitlam, every single ALP term has seen the plight of Men/Fathers/Husbands GET WORSE!

It is left up to the Liberal/National Parties to restore some balance for men/fathers when they regain control of the Parliament, but we should not have to engage in this see-saw interference with the legislation when the vast majority of contributors to the 2003 Family Law Inquiry were fully in favour of the shared parenting changes.

Can the Australian government hear the cries from the Northern Territory and other States from families trying to raise their children, without a father to help, provide love and guidance? The country is facing record numbers of children/juveniles breaking the law, some most violently, some ending in the death of the victims. Why everyone asks? Perhaps consideration of the American findings might shed some light on the problems. Some 70 – 80% of youth in American jails come from fatherless families. Seems like Australia is heading down the same pathway.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

There’s an old saying: in times of crisis clichés come true.

This country seems to have forgotten two time worn adages:

There are two sides to every story.

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

The massive femocracy that straddles and strangles Australia’s public service and its misguided policy making has, following the May ’22 election, now entered its own sunny uplands. The government, and its many toadies in the mainstream media, have taken all the wrong lessons from the success of women candidates peddling climate change and female disadvantage.

Yes, the public are happy to see more women in politics. Yes, the public were utterly fed up with the authoritarian idiocy perpetuated by the previous government under the cover of Covid.

No, the public does not want to see their menfolk constantly denigrated and vilified, their traditional roles as protector and provider transformed by sleight of ideological hand into that of violent abuser and oppressor.

Day after day, week in week out, we hear endless stories about women.

We never hear a single whisper about men’s concerns.

We never hear a single word or so much as a suggestion of programs to address one of the highest male suicide rates in the world, undeniably driven by the Australia’s truly despised family law system, the dangerous tenets at its base now spilling over into the massive multi-billion domestic violence industry.

You can make one simple bet: it doesn’t matter how many billions you pour into the arena of family violence, next year the armada of feminist lobby groups will claim there is a burgeoning epidemic of domestic violence for which they desperately need yet more money to tackle.

The recent Amber Heard Johnny Depp court case shows the end result of all this “Alice in Wonderland” fakery.

Most Australian men, of course, don’t have millions of dollars and an international profile allowing them to fight false claims made against them during custody, property and matrimonial disputes.

Despite years of discussion, there has never been a successful class action by Australia men against the Family Court, the so-called Palace of Lies, nor against the equally despised Child Support Agency, nor against the burgeoning DV industry.

It speaks not to the failure of those men, but to the multiple failures of Australia’s legal system.

Never mind the many, many thousands of falsely accused men who have had their lives destroyed by the industry.

Never mind that pouring billions into a public service blackhole only to make relations between the genders worse is a true example of profligate waste.

This distortion in the public realm relies on a piece of Palaeolithic “all men are bastards” 1980s feminist ideology, that everything a woman, as a member of an oppressed class, says must be believed. And everything a man says, as a patriarchal oppressor, must be discounted.

We hear plenty about toxic masculinity. We hear nothing about the toxic bureaucratic feminism doing so much harm to government and institutional credibility; and so much harm to the men in our lives.

Something must be done, surely, to turn around the government’s extremely destructive antipathy towards men and fathers.

In Australian terms, this travesty of public policy dates back decades; and successive governments of both left and right have utterly failed to reform this jaundiced and dishonest realm.

Way back in the late 1990s, under the auspices of Prime Minister, John Howard’s “Partnerships against domestic violence” initiative, the Attorney General’s department convened a men’s forum to discuss relationship issues.

While Howard was notorious for holding inquiries to give the illusion of government action, while in reality never or almost never implementing any of the recommendations from said inquiries, you can bet your bottom dollar the current government won’t even go to the trouble of pretending to listen to the voices of men.

The forum presented an opportunity to dispel the myth that men only have to resolve one problem …their supposed propensity for aggression and violence. Unfortunately, adherence to political correctness and a willingness to accept without question for many years, the false premise promoted by the women’s domestic violence lobby, that women only are victims of violence, has severely hampered and restricted any discussion of men’s needs and concerns.

The conference was weighted fairly heavily towards the pro-feminist, anti family agenda, but we hope delegates from the various men and pro-family groups provided some balance. The interaction between the factions certainly provided for some lively sessions.

Scaling the Brick Wall

The majority of marriages and defacto relationships are ended by a unilateral decision made by the wife or female partner. Research conducted by Peter Jordan indicated 60% of married men did not want to separate and over two thirds had sought reconciliation. Figures compiled from our own records which include defacto relationships show a considerably higher percentage and many women already have a new partner waiting in the wings – ready to move in on the family.

When separation occurs many men are taken by surprise – they just didn’t see it coming – and feel like they’ve been hit by a “ton of bricks”. Initial disbelief and shock, gives way to an inner numbness and despair exposing their vulnerability. This is especially true if the wife and children have just disappeared. An overwhelming sense of loss develops as they face the harsh reality that their future role in the lives of their children will most likely be on a part-time basis only.

A separated man finds himself without a wife/partner, a family, a home/place to live and adequate money to support himself and his children when they visit. He often has to pay for two homes (the marital home and new accommodation for himself) and for the support of the two households. He is not eligible for Legal Aid, the bank account’s cleared out and he now has no spare cash. He feels like his children have been kidnapped and he now has no rights at all in regard to them and likewise they with him, despite legislation promoting the right of the child to have contact with both parents.

Where does a man in this situation seek help? A check of Australian telephone books reveals numerous government-funded organisations and resources for women, indeed for those self-same women initiating the separation and divorce – but few, if any services for men.

This man faces a brick wall … ill equipped to scale its height with any measure of success and he has no way of “walking around the wall” if his ex-partner is unprepared to act fairly for the children and his sake.

Denial of access by the use of domestic violence orders, false allegations of child physical/sexual abuse or even rape in marriage have become commonly used tactics by partners who wish to totally eliminate the father from their children’s lives.

As this Forum has been auspiced under the Prime Minister’s initiative “Partnerships against Domestic Violence” it is appropriate to comment on family violence. In the view of many, including members of the judiciary, a good proportion of domestic violence orders are false, made purely to facilitate the separation and give an advantage in Family Court proceedings. To date efforts to reduce family violence have been based on the incorrect presumption that only women are victims of violence/abuse perpetrated by men. This has occurred despite more than thirty overseas independent studies, not paid for by a feminist friendly government or conducted by self-professed feminist researchers, concluding that women in a relationship are just as likely as men to initiate violence. For example, a few quotes…….

1994 July, “Domestic Assault in the USA” by Kanton and Straus, average male-female spousal abuse rates for 1992 were: Wife assault 2.0%, reported by 2.3% of wives and 1.7% of husbands. Husband assault 4.6%, reported by 5.8% of wives and 3.3% of husbands.

1991 December – Reena Sommer, Gordon E.Barnes and Robert P.Murray Department of Family Study, University of Manitoba, Canada, a study of 1257 (615 male and 642 female) Winnipeg residents found that 39.1% of cohabiting females and 26% of cohabiting males were perpetrators of spouse abuse.

1988 Survey of Couples by Brinkerhoff and Professor Eugen Lupri, University of Calgary, Canada shows 17.8% of husbands admit to abusing their female partner and 23.3% of wives admit to abusing their male partner and severe wife assault was 4.8%, severe husband assault was 10.0%

1984 Study of 6,200 cases of reported domestic assault by Prof. R.L. McNeely and Coramae Richey Mann shows that weapons were involved in 86% of female on male violence and in 25% of male on female violence.

1980 Straus et al. – of 2,143 couples in 1975, 28% had experienced violence at some point in their marriage, 16% within the last year. Half of abuse was mutual. Annual incidents of overall violence: 12.1 per 100 husbands, 11.6 per 100 wives. When examining severe violence, women were more violent than men. Severe husband to wife violence: 3.8 out of 100 families Severe wife to husband violence: 4.6 out of 100 families. Similar results were found in their 1985, National Family Violence Survey.

Surveys in Australia have, in the main, followed feminist methodology. Results vary, some have even been reworked, to produce more politically correct figures than first disclosed, as uncovered by John Coochey and referred to in his article “All Men are Bastards” The Independent, November 1995. The VISS (Victorian Injury Surveillance System 1995) originally found 37% of DV hospital admissions were men, shortly after the result was changed to 27% due to a redefining of responses.

Confirmation of women’s violence can also be found in several feminist advocacy research surveys; Ottawa’s $10 million 1993 Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women found high levels of female-perpetrated violence, but neglected to publish the fact. Just as our own recent Women’s Safety Survey 1996 found nearly 27% of violence inflicted on women was committed by other women – again no prominence was accorded this information.

In 1997 16.5% of Queensland domestic violence applications were made by men and 13.01% of final DV orders were granted to men. (Qld DFY&CC 1996-97)

No doubt the supporters of the concept that “only men are violent” will query why there is a lower incidence of reporting by men than shown by the surveys previously discussed. Quite simply, it is not in the nature of men, neither is there any encouragement for men to report these offences. Most men stick on a bandaid and blame their poor skills negotiating the door whilst wondering how to help their violent partner, rather than reporting to the police. The application of legislation to prevent domestic violence overwhelmingly favours women and men receive little or no assistance when they are the victim. Half the women’s DV applications in Queensland are initiated by the police and only one quarter of men’s. When men call for police assistance they are greeted with comments such as, “Don’t show me your injuries otherwise I’ll have to arrest your wife” or “don’t be a wimp” or asked the question “can’t you handle your wife?”.

Men face just the same problems as do women when they live with a violent partner, staying to protect their children, not able to leave because of financial constraints or because they still love their wife.

Notwithstanding their reluctance, men are increasingly turning to the Courts for relief. Between 1995-96 and 1996-97 the increase for men and women taking out DV orders was 38% and 3.97 %, respectively. (Qld DFY&CC Statistical Services 1996-97)

Over $200 million is allocated Australia-wide providing information services, counselling and refuges for women and their children. Queensland spends $21 million protecting women from domestic violence. There are few, if any, female perpetrator programs and government funded information services, counselling programs or refuges for men and their children who need to escape the violence in their homes are sadly lacking.

There needs to be an acceptance that violence within the home is often mutual and as David Thomas, author of Not Guilty: In defence of the Modern Man said “Twenty years ago, you (referring to women who persist in denying the existence of female violence) asked for society’s understanding of the harm that was being done to women. Now, when it is men whose pain is ignored, is it too much to ask for your tolerance in return?.”

Many fathers feel deep concern about the trauma suffered by their children when contact is denied or limited. American, Frank S. Williams MD, Director of Family and Child Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, coined the phrase “parentectomy” to describe “the forcible removal of one parent by the other”. He described the deliberate alienation of a parent to be “psychologically lethal to children and parents”.

Confronted by a partner determined to eliminate a parent from a child’s life it is not unusual for allegations of child sexual or physical abuse to be made. However Canadian research conducted by the Ottowa-Carleton Children’s Aid Society showed that 2 out of three child abuse complaints were false. Out of 1600 registered complaints, 900 involved custody and access – of these a staggering 600 were false, unfounded or unsubstantiated.

Australian State authorities dealing with the welfare of children are often reluctant to listen to a father’s complaints of abuse by the mother and so they are forced to take the issue to the Family Court, seeking a change of residency.

Many fathers give up the battle for custody, according to Dr. Williams “not because they don’t care for their children enough, but because they become emotionally depleted, physically exhausted, worn out, depressed or financially drained and they don’t want to continue to subject their children to the relentless warring; especially when they discover they have little chance of success against a prejudiced legal/judicial system…..”.

The prejudice spilled over into other areas during the 80’s when attempts to influence public opinion resulted in researchers finding “children did not suffer” when their parents separated and even went so far as to suggest they were better off. This feel-good ideology absolved the guilt of many parents for their decision to breakup their family, but more and more research is coming to light showing the negative effects on children.

Just imagine being unjustly accused of “wife battering” or child abuse, especially sexual abuse! The brick wall just grows in height.

The emotional hurt and harm run’s very deep here as many men are particularly attached to and involved in their children’s lives. According to anecdotal evidence many male suicides are closely associated with family/relationship breakdown.

During 1996, 1810 adult males (over 20 years of age) committed suicide, compared to 429 females and 154 youth (under 20 years of age). Figures since 1990 show men’s suicide rate is rising, whilst the rate for women and youth is fairly constant.

Men, women & youth suicide graph 1998

 Recently, governments, quite rightly, have recognised a need for youth suicide prevention programs. Some “poetic licence” was used to persuade them the crisis is greater than it actually is by adding-in figures for young men and women, aged 20 to 24 years and calling them youth. Our governments should be asked when they will recognise the need to assist men, who are by far, the greatest majority of those taking their own lives.

Canadian, David Shackleton, Editor and Publisher of Everyman recently asked the question “What is the reality underlying family breakup?” and provided the following answer:

“For most of us, men and women, having children is a trade-off. We do it for the pleasure of watching a new life grow and take shape, seeing the first steps, hearing the first words, sharing the excitement of correctly tied shoelaces, wiping away tears and sharing laughter. We do it to love and to be loved in return. Above all, perhaps, we do it to feel needed.

“In exchange for these satisfactions, we are willing to do the work: earn the money to pay for the food and clothing and rent and piano lessons, do the laundry, cook the meals, wash the dishes, change the diapers and drive to the dentist and girl guides and cub scouts.

“What happens in a divorce? If it ends up in court, then unless she is grossly unfit, the mother will be awarded the primary parenting role (either joint or sole custody), and the father will be assessed for child support with visitation rights. The mother thus retains most of the pleasures of parenting, as well as significant duties. For the father, however, the picture has changed hugely. Where there used to be a balance of power and influence between the parents, now the mother holds the upper hand. He, unlike she, is no longer trusted by society to provide for his child, but is told how much and when he must pay. His ability to steer and influence his child’s upbringing is vastly reduced, and easily overruled by the mother. Even seeing his children is dependent on her goodwill, for access orders are not enforced, unlike support orders. In short, he has become a second class parent, who frequently feels that he is no longer needed for who he is, that only his money is valued. And, let us admit, he has good reason to feel this way.

“Few people, women or men, can accept such vast reductions in the pleasures of parenting and still carry out the duty side of the equation. But like last century’s debt laws, we have become overly focused on judging fathers and compelling them to fulfil their duties, and are ignoring the human issues of the situation.”

Determining strategies to make it over the wall or developing negotiating skills to enable them to ‘walk around the wall’ needs more that just the advice of a solicitor or a counsellor, men need someone who will listen to them without accusation. It is unsustainable to continue with the myth that all women’s ills are caused by insensitive, uncaring men who wish to dominate their partners. Fairness and equity must be paramount if we are to lessen the problems associated with separation/divorce.

Hopefully this forum is the first step in the journey that will begin the process of dismantling the wall, brick by brick, thereby lessening the difficulties so many men experience when their relationships and dreams fall apart, causing an enforced separation from their much loved children.

The Men’s Rights Agency commenced work in April, 1994. It is structured as a non-profit benevolent organisation seeking to help men, women and families through times of conflict and difficulty. The Agency offers advice and assistance on all issues; free consultations within our network of solicitors, counsellors, financial advisers; an emergency accommodation service, (located within private homes); and an opportunity to relate to others who have successfully reformed their life after separation/divorce. Assistance is also provided for women who experience just the same problems as men in a non-custodial role and are rarely provided for in women’s services.

Having spoken to over 18,000 people (over a third are women who call on behalf of the men in their lives or with their own concerns) during the past four years we’ve gained a considerable insight into the needs of men/women and the assistance required to help them through this difficult period of their lives to regain their self esteem, take pride in and value their contribution to their children’s upbringing.

This piece is based on Sue Price’s original presentation to the Federal Parliamentary inquiry into Partnerships against Domestic Violence.

That it still holds true today shows just how reactionary and sclerotic Australia’s public policy formation when it comes to gender issues has become.

Unfortunately, both men and women, mothers and fathers, continue to pay the price for this horrific farce.

Feature Image: Chad Crowe. Courtesy of The Times of India.

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.

If anyone deserves an Order of Australia for her selfless dedication to the welfare of others and for her ceaseless efforts to bring fairness, decency and reason into family law and child support issues such as male suicide it is Sue Price.