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Tue 11th November 2008

Paternity tests and child support in Australia

Filed under: General — Julie @ 11:16 pm

Paternity tests prove hundreds of men duped
EXCLUSIVE by Kelvin Bissett
November 11, 2008 12:00am

MOTHERS are having to pay back as much as $60,000 to men who were wrongly claimed to be the father following reform of child support laws in Australia.

More than 300 men have been cleared by DNA of being fathers. Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show orders for $171,567 to be returned have so far been made against the mothers.

Angry women’s groups said last night that it would be the children at the centre of the disputes who would suffer most if money were paid back.

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Push for jail terms for theft of DNA
Leigh Dayton, Science writer | November 11, 2008

Men who suspect they are not the father of children can be jailed for two years if they steal hair or saliva for DNA testing, under legal changes being proposed by the Australian Labor Government.

Men’s Rights Agency co-director Sue Price said any decision to criminalise non-consensual genetic testing would be “well over the top”.

“I had hoped that this had died a normal death, but it seems there are still people looking to prevent DNA testing,” Ms Pryce said.

Liam Magill, who was awarded damages of $70,000 in 2001 after DNA paternity testing proved a family friend was the biological father of his two youngest children, agreed.

“The introduction of legislation that looked like this would be a total farce,” he said.

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5 Responses to “Paternity tests and child support in Australia”

  1. Bruce Tichbon says:

    This is very significant. What is distressing is the law had been in place nearly 2 years in Australia and it appears the number of men “cleared by DNA of being fathers” is only “more than 300”.
    In NZ with approximately 60,000 births per year, and about a 20% rate of misattributed paternity (based on international figures, non are available in NZ naturally), we would expect at least 10,000 tests to be done per year. Applying the Australian figures (with about 5 times the population) to NZ we would be getting 60 men cleared per year; this would imply 60/20% applications per year, or about 300 applications in NZ.
    There is a strong implication that there is some form of gate keeping going on in Australia, preventing children and men from getting ready access to DNA tests. This would not be surprising, as we have seen how successful the government officials and the family court have been (in Australia and NZ) in gate keeping men out of custody of their children.
    In NZ we have Judy Turners paternity testing bill sitting on the Parliamentary order paper, but will the incoming government allow it to stay there?
    Bruce Tichbon
    PS the origional is at http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24634062-662,00.html

  2. julie says:

    Hi Bruce, I asked Peter Dunne about making a law requiring Paternity from birth. He seems to be a person who wants less government in people’s lives so he wasn’t keen on it. Judy was a good politician and it is sad she did not make it back this term. But she did put forth a worthwhile law.

    Is there a way we can make her bill pass? I know there are other groups out there who are supportive too and the NZ Herald is a friend to the men’s movement as they are to all others.

    What should we do now that Judy is not there?

    PS. I hope the poster UF still gives us support. I don’t know if he is in either.

  3. UF says:

    See my posting.

    I am not posting again, good luck.

  4. Dave says:

    When a baby is born they give the baby a pin prick on it’s foot to get a drop of blood. I forget now what this is for but I know the card with the drop of blood gets filed somewhere – not discarded.
    Also baby gets a shot. I think it’s vitamin K but I forget the details about that too.
    In these modern times mother has the right to veto these procedures I think but only a nut case would say no.

    The idea that a swab could be run down the inside of baby’s mouth and used to check paternity at birth is apparently a big deal.
    This is not rational.

    A child has the right to know who it’s biological parents are.
    It is a crime to deceive a man into thinking he is the biological father.

    The only reasonable course of action is paternity testing at birth. If mother wants to prevent that occurring then mother needs to get a court order. Such orders need to be worded as orders to ‘override the child’s human right to determine his/her paternity’ and so should require compelling reasons.

  5. Allan says:

    The heel prick is a test for genetic disorders. Bruce Slane when he was Privacy Commisioner looked at the issues but paternity was rejected as a test.
    I can put my hand up as a “nut case” who refused the vitamin K injection for my children.
    Allan

    Guthrie Heel Prick report – media release
    I conducted an inquiry into the collection, retention, use and release of newborn metabolic screening test samples, often referred to as the “Guthrie test”. A heel prick blood sample is taken from babies shortly after birth and the sample is tested for seven genetic metabolic disorders.

    The samples and test results are stored at the National Testing Centre at Auckland Hospital.

    Almost 100% of babies born in New Zealand are tested in this programme and the newborn screening samples are retained indefinitely.

    I was concerned to see if there appeared to be any changes which ought to be made in the law, in information supplied to parents, or in the retention of the samples. I also wanted to consider the implications of the use and release of the samples in court cases.

    It is fortunate that the testing centre has been well managed.

    However, no specific law covers the operation of the programme, or the retention of the samples. As a consequence, there is no adequate legal protection for the samples against access by third parties or against future uses.

    I recommend:
    1. That the Ministry of Health allocate clear responsibility and authority for the operation of the newborn metabolic screening programme.

    2. That the body appointed move urgently to develop clear rules for retention of the samples and any further use or third party access to those samples, consulting widely with stakeholders and with the Privacy Commissioner.

    3. That these rules, and any permission-granting structures they involve, be incorporated in legislation in such a way that they are clear, robust and enforceable.

    B H Slane
    Privacy Commissioner

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