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Working Together for Men and Boys

Some parents bring up their children on thunder and lightning, but thunder and lightning never made anything grow. As a dad with strong opinions about injustice and a passion for the truth, I can easily fall into this trap myself. No doubt at times I have. Thankfully my children have forgiven me for my occasional rants.

This week, you will have to as well. The topic is ‘Working Together for Men & Boys’, which happens to be the theme for International Men’s Day, 19 November 2014.

Dads4Kids’ work is encouraging men to turn their hearts to their children and prioritise their families. We are a Harm Prevention Charity whose main goal is to turn the tide of fatherlessness in Australia, now reaching pandemic proportions. Tonight a million children will go to sleep without their biological father in the home, In the massive majority of cases this is due to family breakdown, which again, in the main, is entirely preventable.

When we strengthen and support Australian marriages, we strengthen and support mothers and fathers to be great mums and dads. The job of Dads4Kids, in particular, is to help Dads become great Dads for their kids. The latest TV CSA ad campaign, Love Your Children, is a classic case in point. While we are busy at one end of the pile, helping inspiring and encouraging Aussie Dads to excellence in fathering, there are government agencies such as the Family Law System and the Child Support Agency, busy destroying, discouraging and denigrating Australian fathers. The situation in this country is an absolutely scandalous injustice and has been so for many decades.

Let me cut to the chase. On Thursday 25 September 2015, Dads4Kids gave testimony with two witnesses to the horrors wreaked on Australian fathers by the Child Support and Family Law System. These two brave single fathers, one of whom is featured in this week’s Single Dad section, gave detailed testimony to the horrors of the government system in front of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in the Federal Parliament, Canberra. See our official submission at this link, Submission#93, and the abbreviated one below.

Dads4Kids is concerned that over 1 million Australian children are living without their fathers. The social and economic consequences of this for our nation are catastrophic. The personal impact of this on the well-being of children, mothers and fathers is devastating and often overwhelming:

The High Cost Of Fatherlessness

– increases poverty
– lowers educational performance
– increases crime
– increases drug abuse
– increases mental health problems
– costs Australia $12 billion per year
– divorce costs Australia $14 billion per year
– increases child abuse

Dads4Kids believes that the legislation underpinning the Family Court of Australia and the Child Support Agency has been a major factor contributing to this crisis of fatherlessness…

This legislation and the organisations enacting the legislation need to be scrutinized and reviewed by this Inquiry with a view to it being either abolished or radically overhauled…

Whilst Dads4Kids fully supports a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting and radical reform of the Child Support Agency, Dads4Kids reserves the right to also stand equally for the best interests of the mother and children in separation. The children’s right to equal access to both natural father and mother should always be upheld…

The death rate amongst child support payer fathers is 2.53 per 1,000 in 2003 and was almost double the rate of Australian males who do not have administrative child support assessments at 1.44 per 1,000.

Shared parenting and massive reform of the Child Support Agency, including the Family Law Court, are the only reasonable options available. Dads4Kids has had a long history of support and advocacy around men’s health. The National Men’s Health Policy, now supported by both the Coalition and Labor parties and all members of parliament, was placed before government by the Dads4Kids Men and Fathers’ Family Friendly Policy Forum 2007.

Key Recommendations to the Child Support Inquiry

1. The negative effect that the Child Support Agency has on men’s health in general should be addressed urgently.
2. The ‘almost double the death rate by any cause’ for male child support payers which make up 87.5% of child support payers be addressed urgently.
3. The fact that male child support payers who make up 87.5% of child support payees, as compared with women, and the inequity associated with this figure be addressed urgently.
4. The fact that 44% of all child support payers are unemployed as compared with the general rate of 5.9% unemployment (June 2014) and the inequity associated with these figures be addressed urgently.
5. The fact that Family Law Courts invariably rule in favour of the mother in over 80% of the cases shows the innate bias against fathers and the governmental promotion of fatherlessness which is then accelerated by the Child Support Agency which further confirms the anti-male bias within its administration. This needs to be urgently addressed.
6. We call for full reporting of the suicide statistics of child support payers both male and female.
7. We ask the Minister for Health to include, in the National Men’s Health Policy, a system of open reporting on the adverse impact on men’s health by both the Family Law Court and the Child support Agency so these inequalities can be urgently addressed by all government departments and anti-male bias be removed from all government departments for the sake of the children of Australia.

The two women Labor parliamentarians who were present at the Inquiry had a reaction to the Dads4Kids submission that was one of incredulous amazement. “How could the stronger sex possibly be discriminated against?”

The very next day I had a phone call from a woman complaining about the shocking discrimination her partner was suffering at the hands of the Family Law and Child Support System. On Saturday I spoke to a man who had been through the system 15 years earlier himself, but also had about a dozen friends commit suicide as a result of the bias in the system.

We must make a stand. We must speak up. We must work together for a better and fairer future for our men and our boys.

Lovework

Firstly we must focus on loving those who malign men and fathers and those who deliberately lie about us, including journalists like Tory Shepherd. Many of these people have suffered greatly at the hands of evil men.

Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that, hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Secondly, as men, we must make a stand for women and children, put them first and protect their best interests.

Thirdly, we must continue to advocate for those men who suffer unjustly in the Family Law and Child support System. To not do so is to betray our own humanity and the future of our children.

Yours for our children
Warwick Marsh

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