The author (Pragnell, 2013) tackles the missteps of the judiciary in child abuse cases. Based on what he wrote, family courts in Australia are seen to be unsupportive of the government efforts to curb child abuse. The judiciary often allows children to go back to abusive parents, further exposing them to more abuses.
As an example, the author cites the case of Garning (2011) wherein there was judicial finding that the father assaulted his wife. The court awarded the custody of the children to the father, against the former’s verbal and written protests.
The author likewise attacks Independent Children Lawyers, Psychologists and Psychiatrists who, according to him, “perversely turn matters against the protective parent making the allegations” in the absence of forensic and comprehensively conducted child abuse investigations.
It is then as if it is the protective parent that is on trial. The protective parent and the children are then punished by not having contact for at least six (6) months and once that order is lifted they can only see each other under supervised conditions.
The author takes it a notch higher, saying that children’s rights under the International Convention are being violated through the frequent orders “that the children must not receive any form of counselling if they again disclose abuse without the permission of the resident (abusive) parent, and their disclosures/ reports, complaints of further abuse must not be reported to the statutory child protection authorities or to the police.”
The author, Charles Pragnell, is very courageous in bringing to the public consciousness the problem hounding our family courts. The mandate of the law is very clear in Section 43 (1)(ca) of the Family Law Act 1975 which is that courts are required to have regard to the need to ensure protection from family violence. Under the same law, courts are required to ensure that their orders do not expose a person to an unacceptable risk of family violence.
Pragnell, A. (2013, February 28). Why are family courts out of step?
Family Law Courts. The Family Law Act and Family Violence.