#Children's Rights
To the Honourable Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Kevin Rudd

Australia says “No” to “Shared Care” when there is history of Domestic Violence, Child Abuse and entrenched Parental Conflict in which arrangements are unable to be agreed by Consent; and when children choose to live with one parent.

Shared parental responsibility laws began in Australia in 1995 and were strengthened in 2006. The first review of the 2006 amendments, by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, occurred in December 2009. Any changes would not be expected to take place until at least July 2010. In the meantime, the SFLC and the newly formed Support Network "What about me", will continue to campaign for change to these laws, which neglect to protect Children and Parents from ongoing Domestic Violence and abuse.

Cases which end up in the Family Court, where the fate of the children is decided under the new laws, are those cases in which the main feature is entrenched conflict and often family violence. Studies show that these are the situations where shared care works least well.

Family Court Judge Justice Tim Carmody, who resigned a year after the 2006 amendments were introduced, says that shared care should not be a starting point, but an end point of family law.

‘Where the parents are co-operating and friendly, some form of shared care can work. But in cases of entrenched conflict, which represent the bulk of matters litigated in the Family Court, it puts the child right in the middle of the conflict. It’s like social engineering, a way of society forcing the parents to, in a sense, stay married and decide the most fundamental things they were not able to agree upon when they were together.’

We, the undersigned, call on the Australian Federal Government to make immediate and urgent changes to the Shared Parenting Amendments, Family Law Act, 2006, to ensure that:

a). Shared Care Arrangements are only entered into, by parents on a voluntary basis; where conflict ceases to exist and Children are mature enough to understand and agree to such arrangements.

b). All allegations of abuse and violence towards children be formally and thoroughly investigated by trained professionals.

c). Shared Care Arrangements, not to be entertained as an option when there is a history of Domestic Violence and when parents are so entrenched with conflict, that parenting arrangements cannot be entered into on a voluntary basis, but by Court Order only.

d). Children have the right to be heard, be safe and to choose which parent they wish to reside with.

e). The parent with which the child lives, has the right to relocate to access family support, employment and education opportunities.

f). Further funding is provided in every State of Australia to increase the provision and availability of free Relationship & Family Counselling Services, Mediation Services and Children's Contact Services.

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The Australia says “No” to “Shared Care” when there is history of Domestic Violence petition to To the Honourable Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Kevin Rudd was written by SFLCwhataboutme and is in the category Children's Rights at GoPetition.