There’s an international custody drama unfolding in Qld that’s been getting quite a bit of media attention due to the savvy young girls and the blatant disregard for their human rights. The eldest is 15 and should be able to have a say, but that is being denied.
From what I have read, the Australian mother met the father in Italy and lived there with him and had the four children– (the children all have dual citizen ship.) It’s alleged that there were abusive episodes by the father towards the mother and the children, but the mother was discouraged from pressing charges. The mother (with the fathers consent) took the children on a holiday back to Australia but hasn’t returned. The father did nothing for two years, and has now started proceedings using the Hague convention. The mother has been ordered to go back to Italy (with the children) to face a trial. The children have apparently been taken by the great grandmother and have been in hiding for the last couple of days.
The mother has been ordered to be at Brisbane International Airport tonight at 1 minute past midnight.
There is a facebook page for people who want to support this cause and want info on it, https://www.facebook.com/kidswithoutvoices
Posted on behalf of the National Child Protection Alliance
REGARDING THE 4 `GARNING’ CHILDREN ORDERED TO BE DEPORTED TO ITALY TO THE CUSTODY OF THEIR FATHER
The four `Garning’ children who have been ordered to be deported from Australia and returned to their father’s custody in Italy.
Reasons for NCPA objecting to these Orders.
1. By the strength of their resistance to having to return to their father, it is clear that they will suffer severe emotional trauma if they are returned to him;
2. It is similarly clear that the girls’ views have not been taken sufficiently into account by the Court but have been summarily dismissed from the considerations;
3. The father - the Court accepted the mother’s evidence that the father had subjected her to serious physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. Since their separation in 2007 the father has subjected the mother to harassment and death threats;
It was also accepted that the father had subjected the children to physical abuse but which the Court dismissed as `Authoritarian parenting’;
The father suffers a serious mental disorder for which he has been hospitalised on three occasions and continues to receive outpatient treatment;
4. In 2010 the father took one of the children on his motorcycle without any protective headgear or clothing and he was on medication. He was speeding and crashed into a car in reckless disregard for his own safety and his daughter’s. Fortunately his daughter only suffered minor injuries for which she was taken to hospital by ambulance for treatment.
Article 13 of the Hague Convention states:
Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding Article, the judicial or administrative authority of the requested State is not bound to order the return of the child if the person, institution or other body which opposes its return establishes that –
a) the person, institution or other body having the care of the person of the child was not actually exercising the custody rights at the time of removal or retention, or had consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention; or
b) there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.
The judicial or administrative authority may also refuse to order the return of the child if it finds that the child objects to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of its views.
In considering the circumstances referred to in this Article, the judicial and administrative authorities shall take into account the information relating to the social background of the child provided by the Central Authority or other competent authority of the child's habitual residence.
The NCPA position and recommendations:
It is the view of NCPA that insufficient consideration has been given to the provisions of Article 13 :
a) That there has been little or no assessment of the `social background’ of the child by a competent authority in the child’s habitual residence (in this instance adjudged to be Italy);
b) That insufficient consideration has been given to the age and degree of maturity of these children (the oldest almost 15 years) and the strength of the children’s individual and collective objections to be being placed in their father’s custody;
c) That the risk of physical and psychological harm to the children has not been fully and competently assessed in the light of the admitted physical abuse by their father and the potential for physical, emotional, and verbal abuse of which he has been shown to be capable.
In these circumstances the NCPA recommends that the proceedings in this matter are re-opened and :
1. The children are joined as separate parties to the proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 Section 65 (a) and the Family Law Rules 2004 Regulation 6.03. The children are enabled to appoint their own legal counsel so they have full legal representation and legal aid, and an independent Child Advocate to act as their `Next Friend’ in the proceedings;
2. The risk of physical and psychological harm to the children be fully investigated and assessed by competent child protection specialists. Particular attention should be given to the father’s past and ongoing mental health problems and to his parenting capacities;
3. A full assessment be made of the `social background’ in which the children would be expected to live if returned to their father.
The Australian Federal Parliament gave very considerable consideration in 2011 to issues regarding domestic violence and the inherent abuse of children, and to the right of children to have their wishes and feelings placed as a major consideration in Family Law matters in accordance with the spirit and intent of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by Australia in 1991. In consequence, Parliament determined that the Family Law should be considerably amended and strengthened in regard to these matters – such amendments come into force in June 2012.
It would appear that the Family Court judiciary, including Chief Justice Bryant and Deputy Chief Justice Faulks, are insensitive to the strength of feelings and the intentions of the members of the Federal Parliament regarding these issues.