By Corrine Barraclough
When I catch up with Barry Williams, National President of Lone Fathers Association of Australia, he’s just come off a challenging call. This is, of course, nothing new to him or his organisation, but since he appeared on A Current Affair (ACA) recently talking about family law reform, the phone has been ringing non-stop.
“I’ve been getting a lot of calls from mothers who are trying to get information to help their sons,” he tells me. “Often these people are so frustrated they can’t help themselves so their mum – or even grandmother - will step in and try to help.
“This morning a woman called whose son is in pieces. He has a young child with his ex and has been the primary carer. The mother took off when the child was very young and has only been visiting once a month”.
“But they had no court orders in place. They didn’t go to court because of the expense. He was happy taking care of the child so it seemed to be working. Until the last visit, that is. She took off with the child. He’s heard nothing. She took no clothes, no bottle, none of the child’s favourite toys. The worried father is sick with worry. I tried to explain that even if they get legal aid and get access to a lawyer nothing will happen quickly. I know that’s not what they want to hear, but it’s the truth. Our phones have been non-stop since ACA. Right across the country, people need help with family law issues.”
On children’s rights:
“The rights of children have been abolished in Australia,” says Williams. “Often court writers will only listen to one side of a story. They don’t listen to the other side, and they don’t even bother to listen to the children. Why aren’t they asking the children what they want? It’s outrageous.”
To Human Services Minister (Alan Tudge):
Williams continues: “I keep hearing it – stop saying it. Stop saying there’s no proof of the connection between CSA and suicide. There is. I can give you names. You want names? I can give you specific cases where the judge has said, “the child support agency played a major part in this death.”
“I want to speak to George Brandis,” he says. “There are desperate people right across the country who know the damage the family courts are doing to lives. How do I know? They call me. I took seven calls just on Saturday from people saying they want to end it. This farcical system is costing lives. The government have to listen. People have had enough. Alienating fathers – it has to stop.”
What’s the number one most important issue?
“We must instate perjury in the Family Court. People have to be punished for lying. That is integral to children’s right too.” Thank you Barry Williams for your unwavering dedication to this cause.
Lone Fathers Association of Australia run programs and family courses. The organisation believes children need their fathers as much as they need their mothers.