The man given the pseudonym Mr Grainger by the Family Court told The Australian that he would love for his daughter to receive $10,000 from taxpayers for no reason but not if it meant reinforcing a ‘false narrative that she had been abused.
Legal Affairs Correspondent
- 8 minutes ago May 25, 2020
Taxpayers have paid out $10,000 to a girl as compensation for being a victim of sexual abuse despite two Family Court judges rejecting the allegations made during a custody dispute.
The father has launched legal action against NSW Victims Services over its decision to award his daughter money as “recognition” for sexual abuse, even though the Family Court rejected the mother’s claim he had abused their child.
It is understood at least two other men have challenged or are preparing to challenge victims’ payouts in similar circumstances.
The regional NSW man, given the Family Court pseudonym “Mr Grainger”, told The Australian that he would love for his daughter to receive $10,000 from taxpayers for no reason but not if it meant reinforcing a “false narrative” that she had been abused.
The mother’s sexual abuse allegations against the father — first made in 2012 while they were battling in the family courts over their daughter — were not substantiated by police or Family and Community Services. The allegations were also rejected by two Family Court judges.
Family Court judge Peter Tree in April 2015 found that the child was not at risk of harm in her father’s care. “This child cannot grow up with the belief that her father sexually abused her, or presents an unacceptable risk of sexual harm to her,” he said. “The evidence simply does not reasonably support such a conclusion.”
However, attempts at re-establishing a relationship between Mr Grainger and his daughter were unsuccessful.
Following further Family Court litigation, Justice Michael Baumann found in February that Mr Grainger was a “thoroughly decent human being” and the child was not at “any risk of physical, sexual or emotional harm in the father’s care”.
In contrast, he said the mother’s behaviour and her view of the father was “likely to distort the child’s emotional wellbeing”. But he said at age nine, it was too great a leap to move the girl from her mother to her father’s care because her negative views of the father had become so entrenched. He awarded the mother sole parental responsibility.
Mr Grainger said he was not advised of his wife’s application for the payment on behalf of their daughter at the time it was lodged, or the decision to award it to her, in August 2015.
She was awarded $2300 to cover her immediate therapeutic needs, and a $10,000 “recognition payment” to be held in trust for her until she was 18.
Mr Grainger said he became aware of the payment only in 2017, when his ex-wife referred to it in court documents.
Since then, he said she had been “waving” evidence of the compensation payout around as “evidence” that he had abused his daughter, which had led to him being harassed online.
“It’s devastating,” he said.
“Not only have I lost my daughter through the Family Court, I’m now being called a pedophile and there’s nothing I can do about it. This has effectively been endorsed by Victims Services. I just find it crazy.”
He said he had adv ised Victims Services that the abuse allegations were false, and he had also written to the Attorney-General and his local MP.
Police had told him they would not investigate the matter.
Now, he has decided to launch legal action in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal against the Commissioner of Victims Rights, Michelle Vaughan. In court documents lodged last week, he asked the tribunal to set aside the decision to award his daughter compensation on the grounds that she “was not a victim of actual abuse by her father and suffered no injury caused by him”.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the government was “committed to providing a sustainable, responsive and effective victim support scheme”. “I encourage anyone who suspects a payment under the scheme to have been obtained dishonestly to contact NSW Police as soon as possible,” he said.