The link between fathers taking their own lives and the domestic violence legislation operating in each state in Australia is an issue of increasing concern. There have been numerous tragic cases highlighting the adverse effects that domestic violence orders (DVOs) have on fathers and their children. When police serve a DVO, usually based on complaints from mothers, fathers are often ordered to leave their homes immediately and appear in court later to respond to these orders. During this period, fathers may lose access to their bank accounts, critical personal documents, their employment, and most distressingly, their children.

If a father calls the police to report the mother’s abuse, his complaints are frequently dismissed or ridiculed. He’s advised to leave the residence and asked, “Surely you don’t want to send the mother to jail” to prevent continuation of his complaint, revealing a deep-seated bias within the system. This lack of support and the dismissive attitude of law enforcement only exacerbates the father’s plight, leading to a feeling of helplessness and despair.

This legal imbalance contributes significantly to mental health crises among fathers. Many face prolonged legal battles with numerous court adjournments, leaving them in a state of limbo. In some cases, these delays and perceived injustices have led fathers to attempt suicide. A poignant example is about a young father who attempted to take his own life after a distressing legal ordeal involving custody and DVO issues with his ex-partner. This young man is currently in hospital after a serious attempt to commit suicide. He will not recover and his mother is faced with the dreadful decision to remove his live support. Tragically, several other similar cases were observed in the hospital during the same period, highlighting the systemic failure to address the root causes of these crises.

In 2022 alone, 2455 men in Australia took their own lives, with a significant number of these tragedies linked to the pressures and injustices faced under the current domestic violence legislation. The system’s focus on protecting women sometimes leads to an unintended consequence of discriminating against men, increasing their vulnerability and mental health struggles.

The bias and resultant tragedy not only affect the fathers but also leaves lasting emotional scars on their children and other family members. The overarching framework of domestic violence legislation needs a fair and unbiased approach, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of gender, receive equitable treatment and support. Through balanced reform and heightened awareness, we can aim to reduce these tragic outcomes and create a more just system for everyone involved.