In 2010 an Australian woman brought her four Italian daughters to Australia with her. Their Italian father thought that the children were going with their mother for a holiday, but her plan was to stay.
In took over two years, and a lot of the Italian father’s money, to get his children back to Italy where they belonged.
The Australian press took the mother’s side with incredible bias. Her claims of the father’s cruelty and mental instability, which the court dismissed, were publicised as fact. The Courier Mail, in deliberate breach of the Family Law Act, even published the girls’ names and photographs, as the mother and her family members tried to put public pressure on the courts to find in her favour.
The bias is best highlighted by the fact that the girls’ grandmother, that is the mother’s mother, threatened to murder the children, which she claimed was preferable to allowing the children to return to their father.
This led to the Federal Police undertaking a nationwide search for the girls. The Australian media were happy to publicise the mother’s tears and fears about the police sending the children straight to Italy. However, not once did they mention the murder threat.
Even the courts gave the father as much of a kicking as they could. The murder threats, after the police search was called, were not treated as proof that the mother and her family did not have the children’s best interests at heart. Instead, they allowed the mother to run up the appeals in order to run down the father’s money and resolve.
Consider this court order that dealt with the expenses of flying the children back to Italy. Bear in mind that the court found that the mother caused this debacle in the first place by abducting the children:
That the respondent mother […] pay all the necessary expenses associated with returning the children to Italy, including the cost of airfares and departure taxes (if any) for the children to travel from Brisbane International Airport to Italy, and in the event that the respondent mother fails or refuses to pay these expenses the father, Mr V, pay them. [Emphasis mine]
This settles once and for all the question of bias in the Family Court. Who else gets the right of refusal for a court order?
For the incredibly hard of thinking, no, she did not pay a cent. He paid.
Of course, the mother who would do anything for her daughters remained in Australia. She refused an all expenses paid trip back to Italy so that she could be near her daughters. She claimed that she would be imprisoned if she returned to Italy, even though the father was forced to give a legal undertaking that he would not seek charges against her in Italy.
Now Channel 9’s A Current Affair have interviewed an Australian woman who, they tell us, is in a similar situation. She has brought her two South African children to Australia to “visit,” and, now that the move is obviously more permanent, the children’s father is seeking to have the children returned to their home.
This mother has nothing but tears and a sentence from a text message to convince us that the father had actually given his permission. The rest of the message was obscured, so we have no idea of the context in which that sentence was typed. However, for the reporter, that was as good as official documentation signed in triplicate.
Suspiciously, the story soon switches from “gave his permission” to “not interested in the children” without explaining the jump.
From there, we are to make another leap as the story changes again. Now we are to believe that it is the father’s mother, that is the children’s grandmother, who actually wants the children and not the father himself. Much is made of the fact that the father’s parents are rich, and can therefore afford to drag this “Aussie mum” through the courts. The implication is that if Mummy didn’t have the money, then the father wouldn’t get off his arse to get his children if they lived across the street.
But, the reporter informs us that the stakes for this tearful, but poor, mother could not be higher:
Lose the battle and she loses her children.
There are two other aspects to the story which make the stench almost unbearable. The first is a segment where they describe the case of an Englishman who found himself in a similar position.
This man had children with an Australian woman in England. One day he went to work, assuming that his wife was dropping the children off at school and then going to work herself. When he came home, he found out that they had actually moved to the other side of the world.
In perhaps some recognition of his pain, they allow him to describe his anguish at finding his children abducted, and acknowledge that the Australian government added insult to injury by forcing him to pay some 14 months child support in “arrears.”
Unstated by the story, however, is the fact that the Englishman had the same right to demand that the Australian woman returned with his children. He did this, and she and the children were returned to England where the custody dispute took place under British Family Law.
It was there that the shared custody arrangement that they now have in Australia was agreed upon. Of course, this contradicts the claim that the woman will lose her children if they are returned to South Africa, and so didn’t get past the cutting room.
Also on the cutting room floor would be the part where the judge said:
Child abduction seldom, if ever, has a happy ending. It has rightly been described as a form of child abuse
The real point of this story for A Current Affair, however, is that the Englishman did the manly thing and moved to Australia to be with his children.
At least now he has quality contact.
The implication being that if the South African man truly wanted to see his children, he would do the same. And, in giving in to her demands that everyone should relocate, he is somehow guaranteed “quality contact.”
The other bizarre angle is that the mother didn’t want to return to South Africa because it is a dangerous place to live. There are two issues here.
First, we are told that the woman, born in Australia, met the South African man whilst she was living with her mother in South Africa. Twice she returned to Australia to study and live. On both occasions she realised she was pregnant and returned to South Africa. Whilst South Africa no doubt has its crime issues, they haven’t just started in the last couple of weeks. Not only did the crime issue not deter her from living in South Africa herself, but twice she returned to live in South Africa with her children.
But also, consider that she has returned to Melbourne. Is this a safer alternative? These are just some recent headlines from a sensationalist media:
A 47-year-old man has been assaulted by two men with handguns and bats during a home invasion in Gisborne, north of Melbourne.
A group of armed men have beaten a 20-year-old man to death and injured two others after forcing their way into a Melbourne home.
A 32-year-old man has been charged over the sexual assault of a woman during a home invasion in Melbourne.
A Current Affair has often covered such stories, with all the sensationalist footage they could find.
We have also just had the Jon Faine’s Special Forum on “Women, violence and culture in our society” on ABC Radio. The cases the ABC cites as proof of “the culture of violence against women in our community,” are cases that have brought many a “Special Report” on A Current Affair.
It seems that the truth is whatever will have the biggest shock value, and whatever will encourage neurotic women to feel that A Current Affair will be there to protect them when they cry.
The children, like the father, will just have to accept their role in pleasing the advertisers.