#Law Reform
Psychology, family law, academics, child protection organisations

This petition is for ordinary citizens, family law specialists, child protection organizations, academics and other professionals interested in the way the Family Court of Australia (FCA) deals with child custody, access and shared care in cases of suspected domestic violence or sexual abuse.

The petition is part of a Family Court - Saftey First campaign which will culminate in a national Mayday! Rally on Sunday, May 3. The date is International Press Freedom Day and will mark the anniversary of the deaths of two children killed in a murder suicide after a bad Family court decision. For more information about the rally in your city and the campaign, google "Family Court Rally & Petition Update" or see this web link http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=69087938967#

The petition calls on Kevin Rudd and Attorney General Robert McClelland to amend FCA laws to better protect children from violent or otherwise abusive parents.

Former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia said our legal system should consider following New Zealand's lead after one of their own children was brutally murdered by her father.

Now, in NZ the onus has been shifted to a violent parent to prove they are safe before custody or access is considered.

Nobody would force an adult rape victim to regularly spend time with their rapist, yet we routinely sentence children to regular contact with parents they have seen beating another parent or who have abused them.

The Howard Government strengthened the equal access to both parent's notion, without enough regard for the fitness of both parents to care for a child, by recommending shared-care where possible.

If you care about keeping children safe after separation or divorce, please find a moment to sign this petition.

If you sign this, please, send it to your networks and ask them to sign and pass it to their networks. Your one signature, this way, can turn into hundreds.

We call on the Federal Government to:

Amend custody, access and shared care of Australian children following divorce where there is an allegation of violence or abuse by a parent.

Implement former Chief Justice of the Family Court Alistair Nicholson suggestion that the onus should be on a parent with a history of abuse to prove they are safe and that an inquisitorial process better serves the needs of children in the Family Court.

Acknowledge in legislation that access to both parents is not always beneficial to children when there is insufficient regard to previous history or evidence of family violence or sexual abuse by a parent.

Enshrine in legislation that parents’ rights to their children must not take precedence over the children's right to be and feel safe.

Legislate that all legal professionals in FCA have acccredited training in child development, domestic violence and child sexual abuse. A panel of experts who have spent time with the child should also make a recommendation to the court.

Introduce legislation allowing FCA to hear children's own testimony regarding custody and access. We must stop parents and foster carers from forcing crying children to see parents they were removed from because of violence or sexual abuse.

To review the legal system in which the very lives of children are put shamefully at risk. To dispel, through legislation, the current court myth that a violent spouse can be a good parent. The current system is ill equipped to deal with psychological needs of children.

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The Family Court of Australia amendments petition to Psychology, family law, academics, child protection organisations was written by barbara biggs and is in the category Law Reform at GoPetition.