The National Child Protection Alliance (NCPA), a not for profit organisation which focuses on trying to protect children from abuse, neglect and exploitation has prepared a report for the newly established International Tribunal For Natural Justice, outlining alleged Human Rights breaches within the Australian Family Justice system.
The organisation is currently inviting submissions for this Application, from anyone who wishes to share their experience of the Family Courts in Australia as a child.
Details are added below:
The application to the ITNJ is to demonstrate that the Australian Family Law Act and its implementation via the Family Courts, the Judiciary, the legal system and law enforcement are in direct breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Articles 9 and 24 and recommend changes accordingly towards justice and fairness and recognition of the rights of children in Australia. The NCPA Application will be published on the ITNJ website in the next few days.
Individuals are invited to participate in the presentation of evidence to the Tribunal regarding their personal experiences of the Family Courts of Australia as a child, young person, or a parent/ a Child Advocate on behalf of children and parents/ or as having specialist knowledge in a particular field related to child abuse and/or domestic violence.
If you wish to make a submission as a part of the NCPA submission of evidence, please let NCPA Chair, Charles Pragnell know by email reply at email@example.com, as soon as possible.
Your evidence should be assembled as follows:
- Children, Young people, and Parents:
- a) A brief chronological record of the major events leading up to and including the Family Court proceedings and subsequent events;
- b) A statement of what occurred in the Family Court proceedings;
- c) The judgements and Orders made by the Court (with AustLii reference if possible)
- d) The outcomes as a consequence of the Court judgements and Orders;
- e) Statement of all events and written instructions/Orders which you feel violated your human rights. E.g. Children refused participation in proceedings and not enabled to give their views and wishes/ Clear and convincing evidence of child abuse by the other parent were submitted to the Court but were not competently investigated/ were dismissed without consideration/ were disregarded/ignored by the judicial officer and court personnel. Orders made that where children make further disclosures/reports of abuse, Court Orders were made instructing that such disclosures/reports must not be made known to statutory authorities or police without the prior consent of the alleged abuser/Court. Ordered that children exhibiting signs of emotional/behavioural disorders must not be taken for psychological counselling without the permission of the alleged abuser/Court;
- f) Children and Young People may wish to address issues such as:
- Background (the circumstances leading to FC proceedings & their story)
- What happened during the FC proceedings – Where they involved? What happened? Did they meet with Family Consultants? What did they tell the Family Consultants? Was there an ICL involved? Did they meet the ICL?
- Was there a Family Report produced? Was it accurate? Was it a fair representation of what was said during interviews? Were there any elements of bias? Who paid for the family report? How much was paid? Who suggested the Family Report Writer that was used?
- What happened as a result of the FC proceedings? i.e. What were the orders and what were the implications on them? What were their living conditions like? Abuse? What happened?
- The impact of the FC Orders on their lives?.
- Child Advocates for children, young people, and parents engaged in Family Court proceedings stating the issues encountered in such cases, how the Courts dealt with cases, and examples of the outcomes for children and their parents and the violations of the human rights of those children and parents;
- Specialised knowledge (e.g. Researchers/Academics etc).
A Statement of the difficulties encountered in enabling Family Courts to consider research and Learned Papers/individual experiences in Domestic Violence and Child Abuse and including examples and views on how the human rights of children, young people, and parents have been violated in Family Court proceedings;
- Legal Officers – Statements by lawyers and other legal advocates of their experiences in the Family Courts and how they feel that the human rights of children and their parents have been violated during the proceedings or in subsequent Orders of the Courts;
- Politicians – who have concerns regarding the contents of the Family Law Act and its operation by the Family Courts system;
- Other persons who have an interest in the Family Laws of Australia and their implementation by the Family Courts.
Such evidence should be sent by email to the above Email Address by 15 January 2016.
Where matters are still the subject of continuing proceedings, the International Tribunal will fully respect confidentiality and the names of those involved will not be published.
It is anticipated that the Hearings before the International Tribunal for Natural Justice will be held early in 2016 in Sydney. Those submitting evidence and who wish to give additional personal testimony at the Hearings will be able to do so in person or by video-link.
We now add the Application to the Tribunal itself, below:
Application to the International Tribunal for Natural Justice
To declare the Australian Family Law Act 1975(and subsequent amendments), and its implementation and administration by the Family Courts of Australia as constituting violations of the content, spirit, and intent of
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
(As ratified by the government of the Australian Commonwealth government in 1991)
Prejudicial to the Principles of Natural Justice
To demonstrate that the Australian Family Law Act and its implementation via the Family Courts, the Judiciary, the legal system and law enforcement are in direct breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Articles 9 and 24 and recommend changes accordingly towards justice and fairness and recognition of the rights of children in Australia. In so doing, the Application will demonstrate other the Australian Family Law Act and its implementation via the Family Courts, the Judiciary, the legal system and law enforcement and provide recommendations
Extracts from the Application:
4.1 Problems with the Australian Family Law Act and its implementation
The Family Law Act 1975 and subsequent amendments are solely concerned with the rights of parents and children and young people are treated merely as their “Goods and Chattels” (as under 19th Century laws) to be divided up as the Courts may choose.
Children’s Rights to give their views – Children and young people are not permitted in Australian Family Courts to participate in proceedings as a party in their own right and their views, wishes, and feelings are treated as irrelevant. A lawyer is appointed only to give his/her views to the Court of what he/she considers to be in the best interests of the child. This lawyer (independent Children’s Lawyer is not required to place the children’s views, wishes, and feelings before the Court nor even to speak with the children before doing so. This is a direct contravention of children’s rights under the UN CRoC.
Children’s Rights to be protected from Harm and Exploitation – In implementing the Family Law Act, the Courts are determinedly ensure that parents rights to shared parenting, custody and control over children, and contact are paramount and inalienable. Accordingly, evidence of domestic violence (inherently involving the abuse of children), child abuse including sexual abuse, drug addictions, criminal behaviours and convictions, parental mental illness (particularly Anti-Social personality Disorder – psychopathy) are dismissed or disregarded and excluded from consideration of the best interests of the child. In consequence many thousands of children are suffering continuing parental abuse and neglect and if they disclose / report such further abuse the Courts order that it must not be reported to the statutory State Child protection authorities and the children must not receive psychological counselling, no matter how serious their emotional/ behavioural disorders as a consequence of the continuing abuses.
Secrecy of Family Law proceedings makes public awareness of Family Court orders, challenges and problems very difficult. Without public awareness, there is no accountability and no opportunity to implement positive change.
Another issue is judicial discretion in Family Law matters. In particular, this creates issues when it comes to evidence that will or will not be considered. There are plenty of cases where very relevant hard and fast facts, including criminal records are simply dismissed.
Legal immunity of Court appointed consultants introduces opportunities for corrupt practices and manipulation.
Adversarial nature of the legal system is not conducive to outcomes in the best interests of children.
6.1.1 Secondary Problems
The legal system, including law enforcement, does not take into account the realities of families separating as a result of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Nor does the system provide any real protections for the parent / children who are victim to the abuse after separation from violent and abusive relationships, not does it provide any support to the perpetrator of the abuse.
6.1.2 Flow on effects
The problems cited above result in children being forced under Australian law to live in violent and abusive situations. This leads to children growing up with psychiatric disorders, addiction issues and being unable to make a positive contribution to society.
In situations where families separate as a result of domestic violence, violent partners are seeking retribution against the party who initiated the separation. In recent times there has been a spate of women being murdered as a result.
When mother leaving violent relationships report issues of domestic violence or sexual abuse they accused of alienating the father, typically resulting in the Judiciary Ordering custody of the child subject of child abuse allegations (Even when it can be proved) be given to the party who perpetrated the abuse.
It should be noted that the founder of the International Tribunal for Justice and the Tribunal itself have courted controversy, however it may be that family law reform groups in Australia trying to expose wrongdoing feel they have no choice but to explore less conventional avenues, as many current tribunals are State owned and considered not to be impartial arbiters of fact as a result.