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Jul 202014

vHot on the heals of the current Child Support Inquiry being held in Parliament, on the 26 June 2014, the Abbott government agreed to another Inquiry related to family law, which was referred to the Finance and Public Administration References Committee for inquiry and report by the 27 October 2014.

This new Inquiry is stated to have the following goals:

  1. To investigate and report on the prevalence and impact of domestic violence in Australia as it affects all Australians and, in particular, as it affects:women living with a disability, and
  2. women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds;
  3. the factors contributing to the present levels of domestic violence;
  4. the adequacy of policy and community responses to domestic violence;
  5. the effects of policy decisions regarding housing, legal services, and women‘s economic independence on the ability of women to escape domestic violence;
  6. how the Federal Government can best support, contribute to and drive the social, cultural and behavioural shifts required to eliminate violence against women and their children; and
  7. any other related matters.

What is not clear at this stage is whether this inquiry will be interested in investigating all forms of domestic violence against all victims, or whether it will only be concerned with women with disabilities and women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, or alternatively just with women in general as victims.

At this point the information available is contradictory, making references to “as it affects all Australians” in one place, but elsewhere referring to women and/or children exclusively.

It may be, as is too often the case with Parliamentary inquiries, that this is an exercise in public relations first and foremost, and based on past experience, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott is only too happy to promote his apparent new found Liberalism when it comes to women’s issues.

So we at Fathers4Equality would not be  surprised if submissions by men and/or fatherhood groups would be ignored or deleted from the record.

That being the case, we would still encourage everyone with constructive thoughts on how to improve the policy surrounding Domestic Violence to document it and submit it to the Inquiry. You never know, it may make a difference after all.

Please keep in mind that the Inquiry will not be considering or examining any material that relates solely to personal cases or grievances. The Inquiry is however seeking suggestions on the current adequacy of domestic violence policy as it relates to housing, legal services and women’s (and hopefully men’s too) economic independence on their ability to escape violence.

For further information:

Committee Secretariat contact:
Senate Finance and Public Administration Committees
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: +61 2 6277 3439
Fax: +61 2 6277 5809

Submissions closing date is 31 July 2014. The reporting date is 27 October 2014.

Jul 142014

Independant Children's Lawyer family law surveyIf you are one of the many fathers who believe that they have been discriminated against by a Court appointed ICL (Independent Children’s Lawyers) during child custody proceedings, simply because of your gender, well these family law researchers want to hear from you.

Family Law Express have just released a survey asking for feedback from parents who have worked with an ICL during their child custody matter.

Do you believe the ICL was professional, did they understand the family law act, did they treat you differently because of your gender, did they even bother to talk to you?

The Family Law Express Independent Children’s Lawyers survey asks these questions and more, probing the professionalism of a group of effectively unregulated solicitors who are better known for their gender-political ideologies than they are for their focus on a child’s best interests.

Whilst the Australian Government Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has recently released a report aimed towards the better utilisation of ICL’s, Family Law Express is endeavouring to add to the debate through its own direct-to-consumer research. In doing, these researchers wish to both elaborate on and question findings of the AIFS report, and to define the common experience between families and ICL’s in an attempt to uncover truths and offer suggestions for innovative legal reform. Through such research they aim to add to the public debate what many parent’s believe to be the real value of involving an ICL in child related Court matters, without the double-speak or self-justification that often occurs when governments focus almost solely on the opinions of so called experts.

Family Law Express is asking all parents who have been involved with ICL’s to contribute in prompting important and necessary legal reform. We ask you to please participate in our short survey on your experience with ICL’s and to add to this significant debate within family law.

Your help in promoting out survey on your site would be instrumental in our aim to reach out to as many parents as possible from diverse backgrounds in order to truly understand the experience of parents with independent children’s lawyers.

This survey will only take a few minutes of your time but would provide invaluable feedback on the performance of ICL in Family Law children’s matters.

Tell us about your experience with an ICL at

If you have any questions please contact Jessica at

Jun 272014

child-support-agency-mistakes-to-avoid-themWhile Tony Abbott was on the hustings during the last election campaign, one of the lesser known commitments he made was to hold a Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia’s Child Support system, if he won office.

Well win he did, but the exact nature of his election commitment was never really made clear. Why was another child support inquiry required? Who exactly was the existing system unfair against? Was it the dads, the mums, the kids, or was it everyone?

Speak to most dads and they will tell you that the Child Support system in this country is seriously flawed, with unrealistically high child support sums being demanded, in many cases in a punitive fashion, from over-stretched fathers who have already lost the house and a significant amount of their assets in divorce proceedings.

These same fathers are then hit by a calculated child support sum that over-inflates the cost of raising children in one household, while completely ignoring the cost of raising children in another.

And for most dads, this is the real issue with child support in this country. Its not about not paying your part of your children’s expenses. It’s not about wanting to see their kids only to reduce the child support you pay. It’s not about denying your ex any child support as a form of revenge or financial abuse. It has nothing to do with these sordid and fanciful notions that seem to exist only in the minds of apparent expert academics, or the always quotable spokespersons for one or another single-mothers group.

However if you attend the current Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Support or read through its daily transcripts, you will see that like all family law inquiries, this has been flooded by the same-old self-proclaimed experts, with the same old claims and demands.

For instance, Relationships Australia has told the inquiry that some parents are insisting on shared custody just so they can avoid paying child support, as if having a child living with you on a shared custody basis is somehow free or void of expenses.

Further to these claims, the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children has told the inquiry that some fathers seek custody of children one day a week, or every second weekend, just to get a 24 per cent “discount’’ on maintenance payments. It is a sad reflection on this advocacy group that that don’t realise that fathers too want to see their children…because they are their children, just like mothers.

“We remain completely unconvinced that 24 per cent discount in child-support payments in exchange for as little as 13 per cent care is fair or equitable,’’ the council’s submission says. “We are concerned that the significant and disproportional outcome is an economic driver, which is contradictory to the ‘best interest of the child’.’’

According to this group, maintaining a child’s bedroom, or a wardrobe of clothes, or a computer, or paying for your child’s weekend activities, and in most cases all of the above, is completely free and without cost, if you happen to be a father.

Listening to the shrill of commentary from the same old voices, this Inquiry, just like Tony Abbott’s commitment prior to the last election, is an exercise in futility, not meant to fix any specific problem. As it tries to be all things to all people, this Inquiry will end up with a eclectic mix of policy suggestions, to the anger of many and dissatisfaction of all, but at the end of the day it would do little to address the genuine concerns of many men, women and children forced to deal with this lumbering government instrument that like most things with government, was a good idea to begin with, but has gone and cannot be fixed by wishy-washy promises from politicians who don’t understand the problem to begin with.

Ash Patil