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Support Bravehearts’ call for a Royal Commission into the Family Law System

In 2013, Bravehearts formally requested that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse expand its terms of reference and look into the systemic failures of the Australian Family Law System to adequately and appropriately deal with allegations of sexual assault.

Unfortunately, the Royal Commission was unable to broaden its remit to include the Family Law System. Bravehearts subsequently began to take our own steps to look into the Family Law System. This was the beginning of what was to become Abbey’s Project; named after a young girl who tragically took her own life after being betrayed by the system that was meant to protect her (See further down the page for more about Abbey’s story).

In June 2016, Bravehearts published a damning Discussion Paper on the Family Law System, titled Abbey’s Project. As a result of this publication and the harrowing stories contained within, Bravehearts has renewed our call for a Royal Commission into the Family Law System and we are imploring all Australians to help us in our fight to change a system that is failing to protect our kids.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP SUPPORT THIS CALL?

sign the petition

If you have not already done so, you can support Bravehearts’ call for a Royal Commission into the Family Law System by signing our online petition. So far, over 55,000 Australians have put their name to the petition, which will soon be delivered to The Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull.

petition

write to the prime MINISTER

Another step you can take to actively support our call is to write a letter or email The Prime Minister, as well as your Federal Member to voice your concern. Below is an example letter that you may use.

Dear Prime Minister, The Hon. Malcom Turnbull, MP,

I support Bravehearts call to bring about a Royal Commission into the Family Law System of Australia and to address the State and Federal child protection issues around the dysfunctionality that presides over it and its long-term devastating effects.

Australia urgently needs a Royal Commission into our broken Family Law System. This includes; the Judicial system including Judges, court staff, family court consultants/report writers/experts (employed or appointed by the court), internal and external legal representatives including children’s lawyers, legal aid, private practitioners, Auscript, all related State Government institutions including Police, Child Protection Services, Health & Education and all Non-Government organisations such as Family Relationship Services, Counselling services and supervision services.

Only a properly constituted Federal Royal Commission is capable of navigating Section 121 of the Family Law Act and thoroughly investigating the jurisdictional and constitutional issues between the State and Federal stakeholders, examining the complex legal frameworks, separation of powers issues, and the application of the international conventions.

Only a Royal Commission will help fix the ongoing failures of the current system to adequately protect children in the future.

We cannot continue to tinker at the edges of a broken system. There are far too many poor outcomes due to a combination of failures which ultimately culminate at the exit door of the family courts.

Too often children are not being heard and their testimonies disregarded or disbelieved.

It is illogical and intolerable to allow such a system to continue in its present form. 

Prime Minister, only you can make this right. We implore you to do what is right and gravely needed, by initiating a Federal Royal Commission.

make a donation

Lastly, if you wish to donate towards our cause, you may do so online by clicking on the link below. Thank you.

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MORE ABOUT ABBEY'S PROJECT

Bravehearts’ Abbey’s Project is a Discussion Paper that highlights the failings of the Family Law System. Published in June 2016, the Paper puts forward 30 recommendations, the first being that a Royal Commission be set up to scrutinise the failed Family Law System.

Real stories of families who have been let down by the Family Law System informed Abbey’s Project, including the story of Abbey (pictured below) who tragically took her own life after being allowed by the Courts to spend time with her father; a convicted child sex offender.

“The system, designed to protect vulnerable children, is instead allowing them access to convicted child sex offenders and exposing them to further assaults… It’s shameful and dangerous.” ~ Gill, Abbey’s Mother

Abbey’s Story

“My teenage daughter committed suicide after the Family Law System allowed her father, a convicted child sex offender,access to her when she was just a child.

The Family Court System failed my little girl. And they failed me, a protective mother, who in my attempt to protect my children from contact with their abusive father, faced being dismissed as a ‘hysterical woman’ and a ‘vindictive wife’.

How can this happen? The legal system, designed to protect vulnerable children, is instead allowing them access to convicted sex offenders and exposing them to further assaults. The family law policy of wanting kids to have a “meaningful relationship with both parents” drove the decision making that would eventually lead to the death of my darling girl.

I can’t describe the pain of losing her – it’s been 3 years since she died. She was just 17 and such a loving and caring daughter and friend.

It makes me physically sick to imagine what she went through. In 2002, Abbey’s father was charged with the sexual assault of her 8-year-old best friend and sent to jail for a pathetic two years. The abuse occurred at regular sleepovers.

I’m desperate to fight for children and parents who’ve been grossly let down by the dysfunction of the Family Court System. The Court restricts children from doctor and counselling visits during legal proceedings, discounts their word against a parent’s, views reports of sexual assault as vindictive and favours the most financially stable parent. It’s shameful and dangerous.

My darling daughter had her whole life ahead of her, but by supporting Bravehearts’ call for this Royal Commission, we can bring about change for other kids.”

Abbey; whose death by suicide ignited Bravehearts' investigations into the Family Courts system and their call for a Royal Commission.

Abbey, aged 17.

Below is a poem written by Abbey before her death.

………………………………………

I am broken

I was only a girl

hiding under my sheets

you took away all my innocence

left me dead inside

You left me alone

to work it all out by myself

confused and lost I walked

through the tunnels of pain

You left me alone

after those nights

my silent tears never heard

my roar inside left to burn out 

You stole me from my cave

abused my soul and took my trust

ditched it in a hole

and left me in the cold

I’m broken now

torn and ripped in pieces

i fight to repair the damage

but your breath remains on my chest

……………………………………..