New Bill to Protect Children: In Australia Only?


From: The Sydney Morning Herald


Push to support new bill to protect children

Adele Horin

May 25, 2011

A woman whose ex-husband was jailed for sexually abusing her daughter is resisting Family Court orders to allow him contact visits with their son.

A public inquiry into a proposed new family violence bill starts on June 9. Photo: Peter Stoop

The man was sentenced to three years’ jail and served 18 months for the aggravated indecent assault of a minor – his then 13-year-old stepdaughter.

He was freed on a good behaviour bond and has been granted supervised access visits with the younger child.

The visits, which were supposed to start last October, were intended to lead to unsupervised access after seven weeks.

Now the mother is fearful she might end up in jail because she is in contravention of court orders. “The day he molested my daughter he lost his rights as a parent,” she said. “My son says he’s scared of him and I won’t make him go.”

The executive officer of the NSW Women’s Refuge Movement, Cat Gander, says the case highlights the bind women are in under the Family Law Act.

“State child protection authorities insist women protect their children from danger but Family Court orders insist women facilitate access.”

A rally today outside Federal Parliament will be the first step in a campaign to ensure passage of a new family law bill that seeks to give greater protection to children in access and custody disputes. More than 170 agencies, including Lifeline, the YWCA, the Benevolent Society and Headspace, the youth mental health agency, have formed an unprecedented alliance to push for even stronger protections for children in the proposed legislation.

After several government-commissioned studies into family violence that showed children were insufficiently protected under the 2006 Family Law Act, the federal government proposed a new family violence bill. A public inquiry starts on June 9 in Canberra.

Some men’s groups claim the government’s proposed changes to family law may weaken shared parental responsibility provisions. However, Kylie Temple, project co-ordinator for a mid-north coast domestic violence service, said the 2006 law, in emphasising children’s rights to a relationship with both parents, had compromised children’s safety: “If this mother complies with the federal court order and leaves her child with a convicted sex offender, under state law I am mandated to report the child to the child welfare department for being at significant risk.”

The new alliance wants the committee to take up the recommendations of the former family court judge Richard Chisholm to drop the presumption of equal shared parenting responsibility and the obligation to consider equal time in favour of treating all cases that come before the court on their merits.

The government has proposed more modest changes that will give greater weight to the protection of children above the benefit of children having a meaningful relationship with both parents where family violence was a concern. As well, it proposes to delete the “friendly” parent provision which obliged judges to have regard to whether a parent encouraged the child’s relationship with the other parent.

Ms Gander said that at this stage it was unclear whether the proposed changes would have a smooth passage through Parliament.

How To Uncover a National Scandal Part 7: Be Honorable


Video from

Information about the Honorable Judge Sol Gothard from The Law-Medicine Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Law:

Judge Sol Gothard
retired Chief Judge
Juvenile Court, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

Judge Sol Gothard, JD, MSW, ACSW, was elected to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal for the State of Louisiana in 1986 where he served as Senior Judge, until his retirement in 2005 .

He was formerly Chief Judge of the Juvenile Court, Parish of Jefferson, State of Louisiana, having served there for fourteen years. Before being elected Judge in 1972, he was engaged in the private practice of law for over ten years. Prior to that, he was a social worker for sixteen years in a variety of settings. He has a Masters degree in social work from Case Western Reserve University, and a JD from Loyola University in New Orleans. He is an Honorably Discharged Veteran of the United States Army.

He has participated as lecturer, workshop leader and keynote speaker for numerous international, national and regional conferences and workshops. His articles have been published in Child Welfare, Social Work, Journal of Independent Social Work, Journal of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, The Practicing Law Institute, The American Medical Association, Journal of the National Organization of Forensic Social Work, Journal of The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, Seattle University Law Review, Louisiana Bar Journal, and other books and publications.

He is Past President of the Louisiana Council of Juvenile Court Judges. He teaches at Tulane University Graduate School of Social Work, where he has the rank of full professor.

In the past, Judge Gothard was selected “Citizen of the Year” by the Louisiana State Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers; he was awarded the Alfred E. Clay award for significant contributions to children by the Children’s Bureau of Greater New Orleans; he delivered the commencement address to the graduates of the Tulane University Graduate School of Social Work, and the commencement address to the graduates of Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University, where he was also honored as “Alumnus of the Year” .

He delivered the keynote address at the closing plenary of the 1990 NASW annual conference in Boston, which was attended by approximately 5,000 social workers.

Judge Gothard is a member or past member of the Board of Directors of numerous organizations, including The American Professional Society On The Abuse Of Children (APSAC), The American Humane Association, Children’s Division, The National Organization of Forensic Social Work (NOFSW), 2000: Year of the Humane Child, One Voice: The National Alliance for Abuse Awareness, Our Children Our Future Charitable Foundation, and the Louisiana/SPCA. He is currently vice-chairman of the Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission, and President of the Council for Family Court Reform.

His most recent publications include: “The Evolving Law of Alleged Delayed Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse” (APSAC Journal); “Therapeutic Jurisprudence In The Appellate Arena-A Louisiana Jurist’s Response”( Seattle University Law Review); “‘Truth’ versus ‘Justice’ In The Legal Arena: A Survey Of Judges, Lawyers And Mental Health Professionals”(Louisiana Bar Journal);.” He recently taught two Internet Courses on “The Social Worker in Court: Playing Ball in an Unfamiliar Ballpark” and “Child Sexual Abuse and the Courts,” under the auspices of the Tulane University Graduate School of Social Work.

He currently presents power point presentations at many conferences and to many groups, organizations and schools. His recent presentations include “Human Abuse/Animal Abuse: Psychological and Legal Implications; The Courts and Judges in Child Abuse and Custody Cases: What’s the Problem?; Conducting Custody Evaluations in the Best Interests of the Child: A Judge’s Perspective; Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Allegations in Custody Cases; The Forensic Worker in Court: Playing the Game in an Unfamiliar Ballpark; Disorder in the Court: High Conflict People and Misuse of the Courts, Particularly in Custody Disputes ; The Judge and the Court System in Custody and Visitation Cases: “Truth” versus/and/or “Justice”?; Social Workers, the Law and the Courts: A Judicial Perspective.