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Family Court chief justice says Abbey petition 'inaccurate'

THE Family Court of Australia's chief justice says a petition calling for reform of Australia's family law system that has 45,000 signatures is not accurate.

The petition, penned by a woman known only as Gill, outlines how a young Western Australian woman supposedly killed herself after the "family court allowed her father, a convicted child sex offender, access to her when she was just a child".

The petition has the backing of nation-wide child safety organisation Bravehearts.

Family Court of Australia chief justice Diana Bryant said she was concerned about "inaccurate information" related to the petition.

In a statement, Justice Bryant said the  matter of Abbey was not heard in the Family Court of Australia at any time.

She said the only orders made by the Family Court of Western Australia were those "requested by Abbey's mother or made with her agreement".

"The case did not proceed to a contested hearing," Justice Bryant said.

"All of the orders were made with the knowledge of the child protection authority, following the recommendation of an experienced psychologist who was appointed at the request of Abbey's parents.

"The orders made were in accordance with Abbey's expressed wishes."

Justice Bryant said she and the chief judge of the Family Court of Western Australia met with Abbey's family and Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston last year to discuss what had actually occurred in the proceedings. 

Ms Johnston said the while Justice Bryant was "technically correct" about Abbey's case the petition was focused on the entire Australian family law system, not just the Family Court of Australia.

"Since launching this petition to call for a royal commission, Bravehearts has been inundated with calls  from hundreds of desperate and protective parents and carers, all with their own horror stories, following decisions made in this shambolic system," Ms Johnston said.

"The system is not geared to listen to children let alone hear them and respond accordingly. 

"Instead it responds to the parent with the most influence, money and manipulative powers.  

"Rather than recognise a very obvious problems for children in the current system of family law and taking leadership to ensure the protection of children, the Family Court of Australia has chosen to use its energy to protect itself." 

CHIEF JUSTICE OF FAMILY COURT'S FULL RESPONSE

Topics:  child abuse family law petition reform


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