Italian Family custody Battle

LIKE many Australians, Sue Price was appalled by this week’s harrowing footage of an international custody dispute playing out at Brisbane Airport.

While most public criticism has centred on the Family Court and Australian Federal Police for forcing four sisters to return to Italy against their will, the Men’s Rights Agency director has set her sights on the mother at the centre of the controversy.

 “That (situation) was entirely her fault and creation,” Price said of Thursday’s happenings.

“She deserves an Academy Award.

 “I know it’s hard, I know it’s difficult, but her behaviour was the cause of a lot of this … if she
had been sensible and controlled herself as a parent should do, it would have been much easier for the children.

 “The media has pandered to the mother by reacting to her theatrics and that’s made it worse.

It’s turned out to be the ultimate disaster … (and) the ones who suffer most are the children.”

 The graphic scenes of AFP agents manhandling two of the sisters, both teenagers, through
the airport as their distraught mother shouted to them was the latest chapter in a bitter and public custody battle.

 The four sisters attracted international media attention in May when they went into hiding to
avoid a 20ll Family Court order to return to Italy, where they are the subject of a custody dispute.

 The sisters, who hold dual Italian-Australian citizenship, travelled to Australia with their
mother in 2010 for a one-month holiday and stayed on.

 Price” whose Men’s Rights Agency supports the essential role fathers play in their children’s
lives, said the overwhelming public support for the girls’ mother reinforced how fathers were often unfairly treated in custody battles.

 “If a man had acted as she did (at the airport) he would have been arrested,” she said. “They
aren’t portrayed as sympathetically as mothers … the media portray them as the bad guys.

 “One thing that has been mistaken in this case right from the beginning is the Family Court was
not ordering the children to live with their father. It was ordering them back to Italy under the
Hague Convention so the (custody) hearing could take place in their country of residence.

 “If it hadn’t, it would totally have trashed the notion of Australia being a signatory to the
Hague Convention.”

 All four sisters have now left Australia after a pilot reportedly refused to take the oldest pair
because of their behaviour.

 Their great aunt yesterday said the family was now considering a legal challenge in the Italian courts.

 ‘We’re never going to stop,” she told ABC Radio. “These children want to be here. These children want to be with their mum.”

 Lone Fathers Association of Australia president Barry Williams, who founded the group after gaining custody of his own four children in the 1970s, said the emotional impact on the father
had largely been ignored in coverage of the case.

 “The mother might have been distressed, but how do you think the father felt when he was told
his kids weren’t coming back to Italy?” he said. “It makes you cry at times when you’ve got a person on the phone who can’t see their kids even though they’ve got a court order in their hands.

 “I’ve been doing this 40 years and have seen so much trauma … I’ve seen so many suicides over
this issue. “They’re sending blokes around the bend and to their deaths.”