Witness Introductory statement from Susan Price, for Men’s Rights Agency
11th August 2023 2.10pm – 2.55pm
Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee
Good Afternoon Senators, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Men’s Rights Agency was created 28 years ago by myself and my husband when we discovered a gaping hole in the services supplied for men who were going through separation, divorce, loss of their children, child support problems, domestic violence and false allegations. At that time there were 34 women’s organisations most funded by a state or federal Government.
There are three pieces of legislation that work together with each other and are designed to completely control the life of the father. We start with domestic family violence, where men/fathers can find themselves banned from their home, from seeing their children, maybe lose their job and forced to shell out thousands of dollars to prove their innocence all on the say so of their wife/partner, often without evidence; the second stage brings in the Family Law conglomerate where the father, treated like a criminal, will find himself grovelling before a registrar/a magistrate or a judge to be allowed to see his children. At that stage he will be lucky if he is granted supervised contract at a cost of $400 for a two hour session once a week/fortnight; then finally enter the Child Support Agency who will decide according to their formula that he will pay money, often way in excess of what it costs to keep a child, because the percentage is based on their gross income and how many nights the children are able to stay with their Dad. No wonder mothers refuse overnight contact to fathers. Who in their right mind decides how much to spend on upkeep based on a gross income. None of us do, we always set our expenditure on our net income, what is left in our pocket after taxes etc. Child Support has the ability to garnishee pay, prevent overseas travel and increase incomes to previous now unobtainable levels.
The 2006 changes to bring in the shared parenting responsibility, shared parenting time, substantial contact, penalties for lying or contravening orders were welcomed. Fathers and the women who support them welcomed the new approach because it recognised the importance of fathers in their children’s lives. It didn’t go far enough, but it was a start.
Now, Labor wants to tear it all down by removing the shared parenting provisions, imposing unreasonable requirements to prove contraventions, limiting the right to change final orders despite family’s circumstances changing and many other equally awful proposals. But there is no mention of ways to curb the level of false allegations or to improve the recognition of the importance of fathers in their children’s lives.
But why would there be? Politicians have been persuaded to adopt even more stringent legislation, imposed after increasingly vitriolic accusations from the well-funded women’s groups and misandrist academics arguing that children should remain with their mother because they are at risk of harm with a violent father. There is no proof of that and it is nonsense to presume that because a few men might take violence to its extreme that all other men will follow in their footsteps.
It is a well-known fact mothers kill more children than biological fathers. Add mother’s boyfriends to the equation and the numbers increase. Perhaps we should launch wholesale accusations against mothers that they are ALL a risk to their children.
WA child safety identified that 73% of child abuse was committed by mothers.
Sadly, One woman dies every 6 days as a result of DV, equally sadly, one man dies every 8 days as a result of DV. Are we so callous that a 2 day difference means we can discount the suffering of men?
More than a million children are living in fatherless families in Australia. American research tells us that 85% of youth in jail come from fatherless homes. The UK have also produced similar statistics relating to fatherless families.
The number of false allegations, made under domestic violence or family law legislation and the alarming crime levels amongst our youth signify the decline in our society’s wellbeing. It should be everyone’s concern.
According to a report issued by the U.S. Center for Disease Control women have become the predominant perpetrators of partner abuse:
- Domestic violence: 4.2 million male victims, compared to 3.5 million female victims each year (4).
- Coercive control: 17.3 million male victims, compared to 12.7 million female victims annually (5).
- The persons with the highest rates of partner abuse are women in same-sex lesbian relationships, with 44% of these women having experienced domestic violence, rape, and/or stalking in their lifetimes (6).
A recent report from Australia reveals even more disturbing levels of violence by adolescent girls (7):
- Tables 9 and 11. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/2015data-brief508.pdf
- Tables 4.9 and 4.10. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf
A Magellan Court Judge stated that 70 -80% of allegations were found to be false. Daryl Higgins AIFS
Retired Judge, Justice David Collier, who served on the Parramatta Family Court bench for 14 years expressed his concerns about the frequent use of false allegations against another parent in an attempt to discredit the other.
He stated that there is an increasing number of mothers falsely reporting claims of abuse, in an effort to prevent the fathers of their children from seeing their children.
From the Eeeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation
It is estimated that false allegations of abuse account for 79% of cases during family court proceedings (Ross &Blush, 1990; Ferguson et al., 2018; Webb et al., 2021). Harman and Matthewson in 2020 found that False allegations of abuse are acts of aggression with the aim of permanently severing the parent-child relationship.
Parental alienating behaviours are acts of coercive control and a serious form of child abuse
(Verhaar & Matthewson, 2022).
Our submissions to parliament this time around have focused on social outcomes that are destroying our stability, our confidence in relationships, our willingness to marry, and to have children.
Other countries, Spain for example introduced a domestic violence regime in 2004 more than 2.2 million domestic violence proceedings took place, with more than 1.7 million defendants ending up being declared as innocent (9). In other words, 75% of persons – mostly men — accused of domestic violence and forced to leave their homes were eventually found to be innocent.
Marriages in Spain have dropped per thousand from 9.6 in 1970 to 4.6 in 2017.
Marriages in Australia have decreased, and each state has increased the levels of divorce compared to marriage, where ACT for example has more divorces than marriages.
The Total Fertility Rate has declined to where Australia is not able to replace the numbers dying or those leaving the country.
Our suicide rate is steadily climbing to 2358 men in 2021 and 786 women. Male suicide is at record levels and that is not including single vehicle, sole occupant vehicle accidents. The suicide level will worsen and spread to include more younger people as they are deprived of the love and care of their father, if the proposals in this Act are adopted.
The process followed for this family law reform proposal has been far from fair. Our submission was tampered with and off line for a considerable time.
Another excellent submission from the International Shared Parenting Council could not be opened. I presumed this was due to the authors not being aware of the requirement to give special permission to publish their submission. We were emailed 22nd March and given 36 hours only until 24th March to respond with our approval.
Of particular interest in their submission are the comments:
“The ALRC and the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System has been relied on for the proposed repeal of the presumption of Equal Shared Parental Responsibility (ESPR.) In point of fact, neither support this proposal. The ALRC Report recommended clarification of the presumption 18 noting ESPR had sometimes been conflated with a presumptive entitlement to equal shared care19 notwithstanding explanatory notes in the Act. The Joint Select Committee divided on removing presumptive ESPR20 and recommended amendment without specific reference to repeal.21
Attached, please find our submission which may be distributed freely..”
I am sure you became aware of the media coverage about my telephone conversation with Senator Cash. I would like to ask a question. How can an organisation trying to represent men/fathers be considered controversial? Have we fallen so far down socialist left rabbit hole to think the men/fathers have no rights at all? That is a serious problem and it is becoming more evident as we see more politicians being interested in promoting women’s issues only. I thought politicians were elected to the people’s parliament to represent men, women and children. Am I wrong in that assumption?
The expectation of shared parenting has been evident from the first introduction of the Family Law Act by Lionel Murphy. Labor MP Peter Duncan in his role as the Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for carriage of the 1995 Family Law Bill, said the following in his second reading speech:
“The original intention of the late Senator Murphy was that the Family Law Act would create a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting, but over the years the Family Court has chosen to ignore that. It is hoped that these reforms will now call for much closer attention to this presumption and that the Family Court will give full and proper effect to the intention of the parliament.”24
Secondly, Geoff Green from the Shared Parenting Council with considerable experience gained in his role as the State Director for the Liberal Party of Australia South Australian and Queensland Divisions
“The Parliament has told us, the people, that it would be based on a shared parenting presumption, and that these would be the expected outcomes from the Family Court.
Despite the modest reforms that the Howard Liberal government implemented in 2006 to reinstate the will of Parliament over recalcitrant agencies and the opposing family court, it is obvious that nothing has changed, and this is a problem that is occupying the electorate offices of Federal MPs across our country.”
It is a disturbing indictment that the Family Court judiciary and associated staff have been identified as failing to interpret changes to the Family Law Act in line with the intention of Parliament. Is this because the legislation is poorly written or is it because the Court strongly disagrees with the new aims of the legislation.
Certainly, the politicians could achieve a great deal if they changed legislation affecting families; adopted a recognition of the importance of fathers/men; provided a rebuttable presumption of shared and equal parenting; provided assistance for men who are subjected to domestic violence; reduce the level of false allegations by issuing penalties for those who make these allegations; remove child support calculations that are determined on how much overnight contact one has with their children – to have 100% care means 100% child support.
I leave you with the written words of
- Australia has one of the most family-unfriendly regimes in the world.
- The feminist agenda has taught people to put individualism first, and then blame others for personal failures.
- Men are now convinced that sacrificing for their wives and children is neither expected nor even virtuous.
Your family law reforms will do nothing to improve that situation.