From Dastardly Dads
The daughter has disclosed abuse by her UNNAMED DAD. The Department of Human Services, the Royal Children's Hospital, and others have expressed concerns about the daughter's safety. Yet the Children's Court willy nilly permits the dad to live with the daughter anyway. What the h&*% is going on? If this girl survives her childhood, I hope she sues these bastards. Oh wait, she can't. These bastards have set up this protection racket set called "judicial immunity" so they never have to own up to anything. So they can pull all kinds of crazy sh*& with no consequences.
To Karen Hogan: Please, Honey. This isn't "difficult stuff." And you think there is "no right or wrong here"? It seems to me that this case is far from "gray" or morally complex. You either keep the child safe...or you don't. I'm not fooled at all by all the agonizing handwringing here, and neither are most people with an ounce of sense. Once again, your pals in the court failed to protect a child. They decided that Daddy's "right" to rape his own child had priority. Once again, children are treated like crap, and the "rights" of sexual predators to destroy the lives of anyone they choose is upheld. What else is new. It seems to me that moral priorities (or lack thereof) are crystal clear here. Business as usual.
Court lets father live with girl despite abuse fear
December 12, 2009
THE Children's Court permitted a man to live with his young daughter despite being aware of fears raised by child protection staff and others who had worked with the girl that he had sexually abused her.
In a complex case that has distressed many in the sector, the court went against the concerns of the Department of Human Services, the Royal Children's Hospital and others who did not believe the child, aged under 10, was safe with her father.
It is not known whether any harm has since come to the child, but it is understood that child protection is still working with the family. The Age understands the man also has a past sex offence conviction. Sources say the father denied the allegations of abuse and police investigated and no charges were laid. The Age is aware of more details that it cannot publish because they might identify the family.
Karen Hogan, manager of the Gatehouse Centre for the Assessment and Treatment of Child Abuse at the Royal Children's Hospital, said a number of her staff had worked with this family and the girl made ''numerous and consistent'' disclosures of sexual abuse.
''She was clear: 'This is what happened to me, this is what he does, I don't like it and want it to stop.' We believed what the girl said and we don't think children should be in an environment where they could be abused.''
She said it illustrated the complexity of these cases. ''We're just there to give evidence in court. We don't have an overview,'' she said. ''It's very emotional for the families and children, and all the professionals involved as well. This is difficult stuff … and so complex, and there's no right or wrong.''
The State Government has ordered a review of the way the Children's Court operates, following an explosive report on child protection services by the Ombudsman last month.
While most of the criticism was directed at the department, the report also criticised the court process for being too adversarial. Workers complained that their evidence was discredited, and the Ombudsman said sometimes the best interests of children were not being met.
Experts in the sector say this case highlights the problems with having an adversarial legal system. They say delicate cases like this would be better managed in a less combative way, with the best interests of the child the priority.
The issues are very sensitive and, in a court, it is difficult for a magistrate to use all the evidence they are presented with to make a decision about where a child should live. Some critics of the system believe magistrates are not sufficiently trained to identify signs of abuse.
Other options available to magistrates include granting orders with conditions attached, such as supervised access.
Another source involved with the family said: ''This is not about individual magistrates, it's about the system and about how the Children's Court needs to review its processes in order to ensure that the best interests of any given child are met.''
In the case, sources say the department appealed against an interim court order allowing the father regular access while the allegations were investigated because it was inappropriate for the girl to see her father after she made allegations of abuse. But the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.
In a later decision that dismayed workers involved in the case, the Children's Court made a final order permitting the father to live with his family. It is understood that decision was not appealed because the first appeal had failed.
Sources say part of the problem is the role of lawyers, who play a big part in determining what evidence is permitted in court and who is permitted to give evidence.
Children's Court president Judge Paul Grant said in a statement released through the Department of Justice that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on decisions made by judicial officers of the court.
''The court makes judicial determinations according to law on the evidence presented by the parties … Any party who is aggrieved by a decision of the court is entitled to appeal to a superior court.''
He said in this case, the department did appeal against the interim order that was dismissed by the Supreme Court, and the final order had not been appealed against.
The Department of Human Services would not comment on the case, but said it carried out its legal obligations to administer any orders to ensure children's best interests were met.
State Government policy says children wherever possible should stay with their families. But balancing the rights of parents and children is difficult, bearing in mind the safety of children is always paramount.
Melbourne University professor in child and family welfare Cathy Humphreys said it was difficult to get that balance right.
''Everyone would want to support reunification wherever it is possible, and more resourcing and work needs to be put into that,'' she said. ''The thing is that highly adversarial processes don't support good work in this very sensitive area.''