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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all from all of us at The Lone Fathers Association Australia Inc. and from our branches and sister organisation, Parents Without Partners and our friends at the Shared Parenting Council of Australia.
Last year has been a mixed year with many ups and downs. The downs were from so many distressed parents unable to have access and to share time with loved children. A direct result of the other parent refusing to abide by Family Court orders in denying lawful access. This has resulted in some cases of not being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel, resorting to self-harm and the extreme of suicide. It is very sad, questions must be asked and answered as to why our Family Law Act is so callous and biased. Why does the Family Court not uphold their own rulings.
This can be attributed to the appalling discriminate amendment to the Family Violence Bill that was pushed through parliament by the previous Attorney General and government.
We warned the then Attorney General and the Senate then that the amendment was destructive and one sided. That they would be used by vexatious people with a vested interest in undermining the concept of shared responsibility and shared equal time that former Prime Minister John Howard had the wisdom and guts to introduce in 2006 and that the amendment would lead to some dads resorting to suicide or worse.
The previous government chose to ignore our advice, sadly several incidences in 2014 has confirmed our worst fears. The amendment has encouraged many parents to lie and purge themselves knowing full well they will not be punished. By holding back the children they will receive additional child support and after 14 weeks if the payer has had no access time the amount they pay skyrockets. The result of this has already been felt, causing devastation to many children who suffer from loss of contact with a parent, damage that can never be fully repaired.
We are desperately trying to convince parliament to abolish or at least change the Act so that a penalty can be given if a person is found to have purged themselves. A recently retired senior Judge spoke out about how it is being falsely used in many cases. Many police have stated it is a terribly one sided piece of law, unfortunately in many cases they are aware it is the male that is the victim of violence, but are powerless and are required to make him leave the home, they have to protect the mother and children. You have to ask yourself what were the politicians that supported the change thinking, they should hang their collective heads in shame. They should be made to contact the mothers, fathers and most importantly the innocent children whose families and lives have been destroyed.
Violence .. To all men let me appeal to you, there is far to much violence against women perpetrated by men. There is also violence against Children by both men and women. Last but not least research and statistics show that violence against men by women is nearly 50%. If you are in this situation just walk away. Don’t hit, push, slap, threaten or abuse, just walk away and let the situation cool down.
If you retaliate in any way you are likely to be charged, have a Domestic Violence Order placed on you making it even harder for you to maintain time with your loved children.
I have on December 3, 2014, received some excellent news I would like to share with you. It was recently announced that 12 Judges and Magistrates of the Family Court were about to retire. This of course would have meant the current under pressure situation they find themselves in would have only worsened, resulting in even longer waiting times for a case to be heard. I have been lobbying the Attorney General along with the situation of the court not upholding the orders they set down, but the serious shortage of Judges and Magistrates resulting in lengthy and frustrating delays in getting orders.
Well I have been told they will be commissioning many new Judges and Magistrates. They are waiting on the full report of the Parliamentary enquiry into the Child Support Scheme and will be taking measures to stop the deliberate and illegal denial of access.
Thankfully it would appear we have a strong government that is keen to restore balance and fairness back into family law for the sake of the children the sanity of parents IN THIS ISSUE Grandparents. There are hard decisions to be made in many areas, debt, education, health … I could go on, it appears that their wish is to bring Australia back to the lucky country.
On the 21st of November 2014 I went down to Tasmania to present Life Membership Awards. A posthumous award to Mr Harry Goodluck and former member for Franklin, (1975-1993) his son, Mr Bruce Goodluck for their support and encouragement over many years. The Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman and the previous Premier both attended the ceremony and assisted in presenting the awards along with many other well wishers. Bruce’s support and assistance was invaluable in my plight to have the Single Mothers Benefit changed to a Parenting Payment that included single fathers in 1977. Bruce along with the late Michael Hodgman (Minister for the ACT) and the late Senator John Knight came with me to my meeting with the then Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. He agreed with my arguments and introduced it that very night. Without the efforts and support from those 3 gentlemen, especially Bruce Goodluck will never be forgotten.
Bruce has not been well of late, we wish you a speedy recovery. You are a true mate, a true dad to your children, just as your dad Harry was to you. We are honoured to have you and your dad as Life Members of Lone Fathers Association Australia.
I have received a lot of correspondence with our great friends and affiliated U.S.A. Counterparts, Fathers, Families and the Children’s Coalition of America. They do similar work for families in America. Their World Conference is to be held in February, 2015.
I was invited to be a Plenary Speaker at the conference, due to severe cuts to our government funding and the great uncertainty of any future funding, I have been forced to decline their request, much to their disappointment.
I am hopeful that the Federal Government will sponsor and fund our National Conference planned for next year at Parliament House. The Fathers, Families and the Children’s Coalition of America and several other like minded organisations around the world have stated they would like to attend as will many other organisations from Australia. Like LFAA, they are all dedicated to a fairer outcome for all parents and children.
I recently travelled to Melbourne to view a documentary on the Family Law and the Child Support Agency systems. It is produced by Karen Hodges and will be available in the New Year. Hopefully it will be picked up by television and aired. It is an excellent documentary and well worth looking out for.
Finally, to all our Branches, Committees, our dedicated members and volunteers we salute you and thank you for all the hard voluntary work you do in helping others especially the children, you are all heroes. Your generous time and compassion has helped save many lives and brought some happiness into the lives of others. May your God bless you.
Lone Fathers Association Australia
Incorporating The Office of Status of Family
Office of Status of Men and their Families
National Vice President & Welfare Parents Without Partners Australia