Family Court outcomes need to be included in the terms of reference of this Royal Commission into child abuse

Dear Attorney General and members of government,

Like so many others, I applaud the recent announcement of a Royal Commission into child abuse. We have all heard horrific stories and know people who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of religious organisations and state institutions. Sadly, vulnerable children can also suffer abuse at the hands of their own parents.

What I find particularly appalling is the prevalence of false child abuse allegations being raised simply to gain advantage in Family Court proceedings. It is an absolute insult to anybody who has suffered real abuse, yet such deliberate and malicious perjury goes unpunished. In family law circles, such allegations are commonly referred to as the ‘magic bullet’ for resolving custody battles over children. Whoever makes an abuse allegation against the other parent first, typically wins custody of the children.

The courts operate focussing on the ‘best interests of the child’, so where there may be any kind of threat, then there is a presumption of guilt against the accused parent, and they are withdrawn from having contact with their own children. This of course gives full care of the child to the parent telling the lies and rewards them for doing so. For the alienated parent, the allegation may as well be a conviction.

This year, your government passed a bill which removed all penalties for making false allegations in the Family Court. It also broadened the definition of ‘domestic violence’ to be so vague that almost anything can now fit the criteria of ‘domestic violence’.

For alienated parents who don’t just give up or take their own life in despair, it can then take up to two years just to have the matter heard by the court, before they even have a chance to defend the allegation. Two years of separation from your children, just like that. The child loses a loving parent, just like that. This is called parental alienation, and it is in itself a form of child abuse, but one that is not recognised by the courts.

Family Court outcomes need to be included in the terms of reference of this Royal Commission into child abuse, because the court itself has no records of, or interest in, the outcomes of decisions it makes in secret, often handing care of vulnerable children into the hands of the alienators and abusers. Hardly in the ‘best interests of the child’. Devastated and dispossessed parents fall by the wayside as faceless, nameless victims of the secret Family Court process, many becoming homeless and destitute as part of associated property settlements and child support claims.

What is urgently needed in this country is dramatic reform in family law, a whole new approach. After all, courts are for criminals, not families.


Andrew Gough

PO Box 1701

Lismore NSW 2480

Petition link … Demand the Royal Commission have wide ranging terms of reference: Investigate child abuse in every public and private institution

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