National Council for Children Post-Separation
Media Statement

What About The Children?
Protesting against the protesters of the Family Law Shared Parenting reviews

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


The National Council for Children Post-Separation (NCCPS) is deeply concerned about the recent comments made by some of the father’s rights groups who are opposing the recommendations of the recent Family Law review. Established to represent children’s rights the NCCPS is primarily concerned about the insistent cry of ‘what about the fathers’ by these groups and constantly turning the debate into an abusive gender argument regarding mothers and fathers, replicating the kind of conflicts which occur in the Family Courts. Such an approach is not helpful in a discussion about children’s needs.

The proposed changes are a positive step forward at establishing the importance of children's safety in Family Law matters. The recognition that finally children’s needs and safety should be placed first and foremost before the needs of the parents should be commended and not condemned as these extremist groups have done.

This is not about feminism as Barry Williams of the Lone Father’s Association alleges but about protecting children from abuse and death where inappropriate decisions are made by the Family Courts under present laws.

It is significant that Williams talks about the `custody’ of children as though they were prisoners or owned and possessed by parents. This is exactly what former Family Court Judge Alistair Nicholson said, the law as it stand treats children as 'chattels' It is that kind of thinking which belongs in the Victorian era as does the concept of “father’s rights”. It is not about `favouring’ the rights of either parent but the rights of the child which should be of primary importance.

Under the present law, children have little or no right to have a say in such important decisions affecting their lives and are being forced by Court Orders into living with or having visits with parents who have never taken any interest in them and is a total stranger to them, or who abuses and is violent towards them and the other parent, or who otherwise exploits them as a means of harassing, controlling, and abusing a former partner or as a device to evade maintenance payments.

“The NCCPS has seen and know of many hundreds of children who are treated in this way under the current laws. It is this current law which has created a Stolen Generation of Abused and ill-treated children who have suffered severe and long-lasting emotional and physical harm and many will be damaged beyond repair”, says Charles Pragnell.

“Is this the way Australia’s children should be treated merely to satisfy the rights and controlling powers of fathers, as Barry Williams seems to want?”, adds Pragnell.

The Attorney General's review by former Family Court Judge Richard Chisholm agreed with the NCCPS recommendation that both fathers and mothers who have played a key role in their children’s lives before separation and have been loving and caring parents should share the care of the children post-separation.

The AIFS and Chisholm reviews both said the laws needed to be changed to protect the children who are forced into high risk and abusive custody and contact arrangements. Yet father's rights groups have been silent on this matter. They are prepared for these children to continue to be at risk to protect their own 'rights' to access. These laws were not needed for the 75 percent of parents who settle amicably and do not have entrenched conflict. They were designed, and are used by, the 25% of former partnerships where at least one parent is unable to put their children's needs above their own need for revenge.

“If Barry Williams wants the Australian people to vote for this abuse of children to continue then I am quite sure that all fair and responsible Australian people will reject such a notion”, adds Pragnell.

Convenor of the NCCPS Barbara Biggs said these men's groups, as a whole are demonstrating the exact behaviour individual men are using who are unable to put children's interests above their own. If these men's rights groups cared about the thousands of children who are put at risk by these laws they would be speaking about some way to protect them.

'We have not heard a word from these groups about how their actions in bullying and threatening politicians to change the law in the first place and not alter it now, may lead to more deaths like Darcey Freeman's, Dionne Fehrings and Caroline Cassidy, who are just three parents whose children died in murder suicides while in the care of a parent they were ordered to see by the Family Court despite violence in the relationships,' said Ms Biggs.

Back to Top