Call to end ‘court ordered’ child abuse
A senior domestic violence worker has called for an end to "court ordered" violence against children.
The worker, who did not wish to be named, said children's voices must be heard.
"In Family Court they need to be listened to," the worker said.
"Where the children are being abused and the court orders that they must visit their father .... that must end."
The worker said there are "very specific examples of kids screaming and begging not to go to see their father and being taken by police to their father to be abused".
"It is court ordered child abuse."
"Children are more unsafe today."
The worker said they had no "issues with shared custody of children when there is no family violence".
"When there is family violence they need to be very careful and the safety of the child needs to be foremost."
"It's a fact today that court ordered child abuse is happening."
Figures from the Queensland Government's Department of Communities report Domestic Violence and Family Violence its Relationship to Child Protectionshow over half a million women reported their children had seen or heard partner violence.
The report also says 9 in 10 incidents happened in the home.
The worker said protection of children in custody cases had to take precedence.
"In the past, women could leave their partners and not have to be subjected to court-ordered custody agreements."
"I've had people tell me, people who fled violent partners in the 70s, that they (and their kids) would not be alive in today's system," the worker said.
May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month with vigils being held across the State to remember the lives that have been taken through family and domestic violence.
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said the safety and wellbeing of children "is always the department's highest priority".
"Under the Child Protection Act, the role of the department is limited to intervening when a child doesn't have a parent able or willing to protect them from harm" Ms Farmer said.
"Anyone can make a report to the department if they reasonably believe a child is need of protection."
"The department acts on all reports made, and takes into consideration the impacts of domestic and family violence in its assessment of harm or risk of harm to children."
In April the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia released the Family Violence Plan (the Plan).
The Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, the Hon Will Alstergren, said The Plan demonstrated "the Courts' ongoing commitment to addressing issues of family violence by providing a comprehensive set of actions that will support people who are experiencing, or at
risk of, family violence"
"The Courts recognise the close connection between family breakdown and violence, and the detrimental impact on adults and children who live with family violence," Chief Justice Alstergren said.
"Protecting family members, and particularly children, from the effects of family violence is fundamental to the decisions made in the best interests of the children and ensuring the safety of people involved in family law litigation is a significant priority."
"The Courts take family violence very seriously and realise that we must continually strive to do better. This Plan identifies clear goals, actions to be taken and timelines in relation to protection from family violence; safety at court; and information and communication."
As spokeswoman for the Chief Justice said the Family Court "only deals with a small percentage of family law disputes these days - the majority are dealt with in the Federal Circuit Court".
HOW DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MAKES CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS FEEL
- you might put yourself at risk by trying to stop the abuse
- blame yourself
- copy the abusive behaviour
- feel fearful, nervous, guilty or depressed
- not perform as well as usual at school, uni or work
- want to run away or leave home
- attempt suicide or self-harm
- want to use drugs or alcohol
- develop an eating disorder
- avoid spending time with your friends
- experience restless sleep or start having nightmares
- begin to stutter, or experience problems talking
- worry about the safety of your family.
Source: Queensland Government.