I felt gutted when I heard the news, first published in The Australian newspaper, in an article titled “Dads ‘Cut Out’ in Changes to Family Law“. Let me share a brief excerpt from the article by journalist Jess Malcolm.
“A family law adviser to the Howard government says Labor’s proposal to amend the Family Law Act is a radical change that will take Australia back to when mothers were granted primacy in custody battles.
Family law expert Patrick Parkinson, who chaired the body that advised the former Coalition government on its decision to amend the act in 2006, said the exposure draft released on Monday “stripped almost all references which encourage the meaningful involvement of both parents in relation to the child after separation”.
Labor is seeking to abolish the presumption of shared parenting in court disputes and slash the number of factors used by courts when deciding the best parenting arrangements for a child from 15 to six “best interest” considerations as part of a major overhaul of the Family Law Act.
The move comes after multiple inquiries into the family law system including a 2019 Australian Law Reform Commission review and a joint select committee on family law that found the system led to protracted litigation and poor outcomes for children.
Professor Parkinson said he was concerned at the decision to cut the number of factors that courts must consider because it would reduce the emphasis placed on the importance of both parents being involved in a child’s life after separation.
“Under the guise of simplification, it actually involves radical change and radical reversal after a unanimous agreement of a parliamentary committee in 2003 and almost unanimous agreement of the parliament in 2006,” he said.
Bettina Arndt also backs up Professor Patrick Parkinson’s summary in her blistering article called “Winner Takes All“.
“The Labor government has just announced draft legislation that will take Australia back to the dark ages of the winner-takes-all custody model. “The Albanese government went back to the future this week,” pronounced the Australian Financial Review (AFR) spelling out the proposed laws which would end of any notion of shared parental responsibility, shifting the power in divorce battles firmly back into women’s hands.
This is huge, people. This dastardly political attack on our society will undermine the welfare of children, ramp up hostility between parents, and swell the coffers of lawyers who will benefit from the appalling fallout. Yet our media and politicians will no doubt avert their eyes to this impending catastrophe and just usher the new laws through — unless we stop them.
Back in 2007, I was approached by a retiring family court judge, keen to enlighten me on how the family court had gone astray. The problem? “The woman has had all the power, the man almost none.” In the judge’s view, children were missing out on vital contact with both parents due to decisions to award sole custody to the primary carer. “The custodial parent has been all-powerful. She — it’s usually she — has had the power to regulate access, sometimes regardless of court orders. She’s had complete authority to live anywhere, with the child, that she desires. The power to determine the child’s school, church, decisions about day-to-day living, and the power to get a greater slice of the matrimonial cake. More often than not that power is exercised unreasonably.”
The Howard reforms very effectively eroded that power and, ever since, feminists have worked feverishly to get it back – regardless of the cost to children. Now comes their reward for marshalling the women’s vote to help Labor regain government. It’s payback time… and Labor has come good by offering women the greatest prize of all — the children.
According to the bright new world of Family Law being promised by the Albanese government, the following will no longer be deemed important in making decisions about children’s care:
- Ensuring children benefit from meaningful involvement with both parents.
- Children’s right to know and be cared for by both parents.
- Children’s right to spend regular time with both parents and other significant people like grandparents.
- Parents jointly sharing duties and responsibilities for the kids’ care and development.
- Parents agreeing about future parenting of children.
All gone. All the language that provided the scaffolding that enabled children to have divorced dads remain part of their lives is being ripped out of the legislation. The AFR headline said it all: “Time’s up for ‘equal rights’ in court custody battles.”…
Now the new family law will be all about safety. The first consideration under the proposed legislation is what orders are best to promote safety for the child or carers. That’s hardly a surprise. Feminists have been using the violence card to undermine fathers’ contact with their children since the 2006 laws were first introduced, with constant claims about violent dads putting children at risk, and legal efforts to beef up safety considerations working very effectively to shut fathers out of children’s lives.
They’ve done a brilliant job hushing up the key statistic which puts a lie to the claim that so many dads pose a risk to their children — namely that only 1.2% of women are physically assaulted by their male partner or ex-parent each year in Australia, according to the most recent 2016 Personal Safety survey. Physical violence is blessedly rare…
Phillip Ruddock, the Attorney General who implemented the Howard government reforms, pointed out at the time that Labor has always been keen to wind back efforts to promote divorced dads’ involvement with children. “They’ve long been captured by the female lobby determined to retain sole control over their children.”
Now’s the time to stand up and show ordinary Australians won’t stand for this attack on children’s right to be cared for by both parents. We need very quickly to get active and make enough noise to convince the politicians currently basking in feminist accolades that we are not letting them slip this one through.
I need all of you to make your voices heard — in every way possible:
- Priority one is visiting local federal parliamentarians and strongly expressing concern.
- Use your media contacts to raise proper discussion of this vital issue.
- Warn organisations involving older people that grandparents could also be pushed out of children’s lives.
- Post on social media, encourage men’s groups to get active, join public discussions.
- Here are some ideas you can use to make a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department inquiry. Either email it to FamilyLawReform@ag.gov.au or upload it here. (Note – ignore the structured questionnaire which doesn’t allow input on the important changes.)
- Send the email to your local federal MPs and Senators.
All of the above needs to be done before close of business on 27 February 2023. We can’t afford to just sit back and let them get away with unwinding the legal framework that did so much to improve the lives of fathers and their children.”
Read Bettina Arndt’s full article here.
So why did I feel so gutted when I heard of these changes?
Firstly, because in 2003 Dads4Kids worked with many men’s groups to build unity to create The 12Pt Plan to help address men’s needs on a whole range of policy issues including Family Law. We worked hard, we prayed hard.
Miraculously both Labor and Liberal agreed to work together to bring dads back into the picture. The legislation was passed in 2006. Was it perfect? NO. Was it a lot better than it was before? YES.
Secondly, the reason I felt so gutted is that every week we get calls from single dads denied access to their children. Right now, the Family Law System is hopelessly corrupt and biased against the male of the species. For the Labor Party to make it worse is unthinkable. We have to act on behalf of our mates!
Please email the Attorney General and tell him what you think of his treacherous betrayal of the rights of children to be cared for by both parents.
Then send a copy of your email to your local Federal Member.
Find him or her here.
Then send a copy to all your State Senators.
Find them here.
Yours for Our Children,
PS: Join us this Monday night at 8PM AED Time for our Men’s Leadership Webinar on Zoom. Details below!
Purpose: Men’s Leadership Webinar – “Band of Brothers”.
Date: Monday 20 February 2023
Time: 8PM (NSW, VIC, TAS) 7PM QLD, 7.30PM SA, 6.30PM NT, 5PM WA
ZOOM URL: https://us02web.zoom.us/s/6527564542
ZOOM ROOM: 6527564542