- Protests at proposed family law changes
- By Siobhan Duck
- Sunday Herald Sun
- 01/01/2011 Make a Comment (2)
- Contributed by: admin ( 15 articles in 2011 )
* Government to change family law
* To be harder for fathers to secure 50-50 custody
* Easier for women to raise concerns about violence
FURIOUS dads' groups say proposed national custody laws will create another stolen generation of children.
The Federal Government is considering laws that could make it harder for fathers to secure 50-50 custody of their children, and easier for women to raise concerns about violence, the Sunday Herald Sun reports.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the move followed the release of three reports looking into family law issues such as shared parenting and domestic violence.
But Lone Fathers' Association president Barry Williams said the suggested changes would be "feminism gone mad" and merely a return to an old system that favoured the rights of the mother over those of the father and the children.
He said his group of more than 16,000 members - men and women - and other fathers' and grandparents' rights groups across Australia would form a coalition to fight the changes.
"It's a backwards step and it will result in a huge backlash towards the Labor Government," he said.
"Most people in Australia agree that shared custody is the best option.
"The Government needs to remember we are voters and it will not be in their best interest to go ahead with proposed changes."
He said the rights of children should be the most important factor. "I have seen many children suffer because they have not been allowed contact with their fathers," he said.
"It's creating a second stolen generation."
One of the reports urged the Government to soften the law that deters parents, usually women, from making allegations about violent behaviour by the other parent.
The Family Court may also be asked to apply a new "triage" system to more quickly assess urgent risks relating to violence, relocation, substance abuse or mental health issues.
Mr Williams agreed families should be sent for immediate mediation and counselling when there was any suggestion of abuse so that the child's needs were properly assessed.
But he said accusations of violence and abuse should be proven in court before a parent lost access to their children.
He said many innocent fathers lost custody rights because of false accusations.
"When relationships breakdown bitterness comes in," he said. "We are in no way supportive of children remaining in a violent situation -we just want charges to be proved before the parent loses access to their child."