It may by reassuring for separated fathers to know that many federal parliamentarians have some awareness of their plight. The efforts of many men in communicating their experiences and highlighting the injustices inherent in the Family Law System is paying dividends.
During the recent meeting of the Fatherhood Foundation/Dads4Kids at Parliament House, Canberra, the following comments were made:
Senator Bill Heffernan said that they hear all the time in the party room that fathers were distressed by having their children taken away from them by the Family Law System. He related this to the high level of suicide and drug abuse.
Danna Vale, the Minister for Veteran Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, spoke passionately of the value of family life and is actively involved in promoting the well-being of children and families. She expressed her support for the Fatherhood Foundation/Dads4Kids and is willing to assist in any way that she can.
Senator Paul Calvert, the President of the Senate, revealed a deep understanding of the difficulties facing separated fathers. He attributed the high levels of delinquency and juvenile crime to a lack of fathering. He recently attended a meeting in Sheffield, Tasmania, where 40 men expressed to him their concerns about the number of suicides of separated fathers. The experiences of these men led them to the firm view that the Family Law System leaves men not knowing where to go or what to do.
Senator Calvert said that he and his colleagues have had men sitting in their offices crying and saying that they feel like jumping off a bridge because they have nothing left to lose. Senator Calvert said that he and many of his colleagues have often raised these issues in the party room and have received widespread support. However, they have also encountered strong resistance and have been chided by women within the party room.
Senator Calvert acknowledged that in the past women have faced disadvantages and difficulties that needed to be addressed. However he observed that when the pendulum swung the other way, it didn’t stop, but just kept swinging. The challenge is to have a balance where dealing with the disadvantages of one group doesn’t impose injustices onto others.
There were other government ministers who met with the Fatherhood Foundation/Dads4Kids. Their comments, views and advice I will write about another time.
The enormity of the challenge of legal and social reform for Australian fathers is very similar to the story of David and Goliath. The good news is that many men are rising from their apathy and are committed to bringing down the goliaths of injustice which stand against Australian children and their fathers.
[Photo by CDC