Child protective services are state-based. The Family Court is federal and there are fears children are being lost in the gaps. The ABC has seen an affidavit filed by FACS in James' case that states it received 24 risk of harm reports from a number of sources in relation to James during the first six years he lived with his father. The affidavit also notes FACS intervened in an earlier Family Court matter between the father and a different former partner after having substantiated he sexually abused a child from that relationship.
A disturbing failure in James' case was the inability of staff at FACS to immediately connect the historical case of substantiated sexual abuse from a previous relationship, to James' file.
Family Court HELL : Mark Harris :
In court documents, it was revealed the change in systems at FACS meant staff only checked computer records and did not check the physical file that contained "much more detail and information". In total, three former partners had alleged child sexual assault against James' father, but only one of those cases was substantiated by state authorities.
The Australian Law Reform Commission ALRC recently conducted a wide-ranging review of the federal family court system and found it posed an "unacceptable risk to children". These gaps exist because federal family courts often hear allegations of family violence and child abuse, but they have limited powers to investigate them.
They rely on state and territory courts and agencies to do that work and to share information about the risks to families and children, according to the ALRC report. One court considering the best interests of the child in totality. James, and others like him, believe children should have a bigger voice in proceedings before their best interests are determined.
Now, she's 23 and wants to tell her story. A Family Court judge removed Sarah from her mother's care and ordered her to live with her father. She had never before been alone with him. I had problems making friends and I distrusted adults so I was very isolated," she said. Sarah's father had HIV and Jackie believed he was irresponsible with his disease.
She knew one of his older daughters had a restraining order against him so she subpoenaed his criminal record. That record included convictions for assault and indecent assault from the s as well as "an extensive petty criminal record" with periods of incarceration.
A major complicating factor in this case was her mother's decision to flee to another state with Sarah during proceedings. Absconding with the child and failing to follow court orders were viewed harshly by the court and contributed to Sarah's mother losing custody. It was never about what I wanted or what I needed," she said. During the court process, Sarah's court-assigned representative asked if she loved her mother and father.
And of course I did, they're my parents. That's the part they don't understand, you can still love someone who hurts you," she said. The judge in Sarah's matter made orders based on the information and evidence before him at the time. Sarah has reflected on that judgement with the hindsight of knowing how things played out. Sarah: "I was never really encouraged to shower or brush my teeth or change my clothes and in turn I got bullied at school.
Sarah: "Dad, he was very abusive; always very angry. I'd physically get hit or pushed around or had things thrown at me or whatever. Sarah: "When I was in my younger years, so I think about eight or nine or 10, I used to get abused sexually by [a family member].
The mother brings no evidence in support of her allegations and I have found they are baseless. Sarah: "I think in some cases they have a relevant theory, for example, a loving father is being accused of something they're not doing, which is fair enough, but there are other cases where it's true and I think there need to be more processes in place and more people involved to pick up on the signs of the child and of parents.
At 13, Sarah ran away. She made it to her adult sister's place and her sibling fought to legally keep her. Eventually, her father agreed she could live there and her mother was satisfied she was safe. Sarah wants more training for counsellors and child representatives in the family law system, so, unlike in her experience, cries for help can be heard.
Family Court HELL
James says he cannot forgive the court system: "That's completely unfair what they've done to me. Everything I have told [you] about myself is only one tear in the whole ocean. Under the Family Law Act , the court must consider the child's safety, but also their right to a meaningful relationship with both parents. The courts rely on consultants such as family report writers to make recommendations about what is in the child's best interest. These report writers are often psychologists, psychiatrists or social workers, but they are not required to have specific training or expertise in family violence or child sexual assault.
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Last year, the ABC revealed a family report writer in NSW had been referred to the Medical Council for investigation after a series of complaints from parents. Four out of Five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs These are fertile grounds for the corruption of the highest degree. No one knows of the nature and outcome of complaints. Complaints about judicial conduct cannot be heard other than in the unforgiving process of Appeal, where other Judges of the Family Court hear the Appeal. Machen Sie das auch? Petition starten.
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