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2003 news from MENZ.org.nz
24th December 2003
We need a law for dads
This Christmas Eve we will say goodnight in our homes to our over-excited children, tell them to go to sleep quickly or HE won't come, prepare for the morning and have a quiet drink of pleasure before bed. Yet there will be many fathers forbidden by the savagery of our laws to be with their children, standing broken, as I have, outside their old homes, the keys still in their pockets, weeping and whispering goodnight as they watch each child's bedroom light switch off before turning away, maddened with grief, to the pointlessness of a lonely Christmas Day. - Sir Bob Geldorf. Today The Sun launches a campaign to have our laws changed so that fathers have an automatic right to 50-50 access.
Fathers given raw custody deal
It will require a very clear, very loud message to the proverbial men in white coats - the judges of the [Australian] Family Court - to end the experiment, to start over, to welcome fathers back into the lives of children. Do not underestimate that task. If the Prime Minister thinks the Senate is an obstruction to legitimate government, he should take a closer look at the Family Court. Over the years it has become a graveyard of reform, preferring its own interpretation of legislative directives about children being loved and nurtured by two parents.
The social experiment began with the best of intentions. The Family Court, established in 1976, promised a revolutionary system for dealing with family breakdown - one that sought outcomes in "the best interests of the child". But the 1970s were feminism's heyday. And so that message - the best interests of the child - was filtered through a feminist prism where the denigration of men refracted into the belittling of fathers. Mothers gained custody and fathers became fortnightly visitors in their child's life.
21st December 2003
Inside the HQ of the 'militant dads'
More than 50 fathers are planning campaigns of civil disobedience to bring mass disruption to Britain's roads and courts in the coming weeks, The Independent on Sunday can reveal, as 21-year-old drama student Darryl Westell spends his third day on a crane above the offices of the children's minister, Margaret Hodge.
Children Caught in the Crossfire
A federal parliamentary committee is about to hand down its report into custody laws in Australia - and what has been leaked so far promises substantial change. There is talk that the report, due to be tabled in parliament by the end of this month, calls for the existing Family Court to be virtually sidelined - confined to property settlement matters. In its place to deal with custody would be a tribunal charged solely with trying to meet the needs of children caught in the wreckage of marriages that have crashed and burned.
Geoffrey Greene, the federal director of the Shared Parenting Association, doesn't mince words: "There is no place in Australian society for an institution that operates in the way the Family Court operates. What an indictment it is of the court that the vast majority of Australians want to take it apart."
Children from split families want equal time share
Children of split families would prefer to divide their time equally between their divorced parents, a study has found. The Sydney University study, Adolescents' Views on the Fairness of Parenting and Financial Arrangements After Separation, by Judy Cashmore, Patrick Parkinson and Judi Single from the faculty of law, adds weight to Prime Minister John Howard's view that children are better off spending equal time with both parents after divorce.
11th December 2003
This programme, however, is not about the interests of children at all. It is rather a radical agenda to reshape the family, to make parents increasingly dependent upon the state, and to undermine them by giving the government more and more control over the care of children... First and most important is the feminist agenda to reshape family life to give women independence from men by making them all self-supporting, thus undermining the idea of 'pooled' resources which is the economic basis of marriage. - Melanie Phillips, UK Daily Mail.
4th December 2003
Recent claims by the Minister of Social Welfare that "I know of no social science that says a nuclear family is more successful than other kinds" flies in the face of a plethora of evidence. That evidence includes two research papers published last year by the government's own social policy agency, which conclude that sole parenthood is a risk factor for children... Marriage plays a vital role in engaging men in fatherhood, connecting them with their children, and encouraging them to take a hands-on role in socialising their sons. With a growing amount of local research showing just how important it is for boys to have a strong relationship with their father, the Government's anti-family agenda - which by its very nature attacks, undermines and discourages fatherhood - is now striking a blow at the very heart of our society. Muriel Newman, ACT MP.
Government family policy reinforcing bad choices
I have tried more than once to assist Mr Maharey and his colleagues in their search for social science that does find in favour of the nuclear family... Until Mr Maharey cures himself of his emperor's new clothes affliction, or we get a change of government, social policy will continue to undermine successful families. Further from his conference speech: "A sole-parent family isn't inadequate, it's the result that matters, so we are not going to reinforce any particular kind of family structure." Well, the fact is that Government policy does reinforce a particular kind of family structure. From the first time the state steps in to take up the role of father, the likelihood of those children going on to also be single parents is increased. Lindsay Mitchell, Institute for Liberal Values.
Parent debtors off the hook?
More than $400 million in penalties on unpaid child support could be wiped next year as the Government moves to reduce a debt blowout by letting parents off the hook. Child-support debt has snowballed by $113m in the past year, with Kiwi parents now owing Inland Revenue more than $730m in unpaid child support, according to figures released by National MP Katherine Rich... Last night, the Government announced dramatic new measures to reduce the debt, including wiping unpaid penalties and interest on a "dollar for dollar" basis.
28th November 2003
Twelve angry men list their Family Court grievances
A group of angry fathers yesterday told a parliamentary select committee that they have been victimised, intimidated, threatened and harassed in the Family Court process. One of 12 men making submissions in Manukau on the Care of Children Bill said a Family Court judge had warned him that he faced jail if he spoke out about his treatment. The Union of Fathers told the committee yesterday that there was a need for far greater openness. Others said they felt that the lawyers who were supposed to be acting for the child had favoured the mother's interests, lied to them and bullied their children into siding with the mother. The Family Court encouraged legal action rather than deterred it, said one father speaking to his submission.
First is Jim Bagnall interviewed on Holmes about "James" - who's baby daughter remains in the mother's care despite the fact she admits to using the drug P while caring for the child - and who has been threatened by the judge if he reveals the situation to Members of Parliament. The second and third are of Union of Fathers members making their oral submissions to the Select Committee in Auckland:
- Jim Bagnall Interview [935 KB MPEG]
- UoF submissions on Care of Children Bill - One [983 KB MPEG]
- UoF submissions on Care of Children Bill - Two [1 MB MPEG]
27th November 2003
Tribunal to rule on child custody
The Australian Family Court will be stripped of its powers to decide child custody arrangements for separated parents under changes proposed by a Federal Parliamentary Committee. A new mediation tribunal would instead make determinations on how child custody should be shared between the parents. Lawyers would be removed from the child-custody process, potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars for parties involved.
Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson this week blasted the notion as "far too simplistic", and suggested any recommendation for equal access would be detrimental to the best interests of children. Government members of the committee yesterday returned fire on Justice Nicholson, accusing him of being out of touch with widespread community concern over the operation of his court. Dickson MP Peter Dutton said "There are obvious problems with the Family Court and the way it deals with matters surrounding children at the time of their parents' separation," Mr Dutton said. "My view is that Justice Nicholson's comments have been completely unhelpful and I see Justice Nicholson as part of the problem, not the solution."
Garth George: Two-parent families still the best
Why is it that so many people - sociologists in particular - have so much difficulty in understanding that marriage is a contract between a heterosexual man and woman and that the family consisting of father, mother and children is the basic building block upon which any society is built? Emma Davis, programme leader (children and families)for the Auckland University of Technology's Institute of Social Policy (God help us), and John Read, an Auckland University psychologist, try to tell us that the key issue for children is not whether the most important adults in their lives are married, heterosexual or single. I sometimes wonder whether the only research these people read is that which they know will reinforce their own preconceived ideas.
26th November 2003
Emma Davis and John Read: Family structure not key to stopping child abuse
The key issues for children are not whether the most important adults in their lives are married, heterosexual or single. They are about having at least one parent who is crazy about them and able to keep them safe... For some women, the choice to leave a man to whom they have been committed (married or not) is a choice to live without humiliation and fear... Those who use the Ellis case to denigrate child protection workers do not help. Nor do those who promote the misguided notions that issuing marriage certificates, or lowering benefits, would reduce child abuse.
ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today told the Child/Youth Law & Policy Conference that criminalisation of parents who choose to smack their children is now purely a political struggle. It has nothing to do with reason. There's no evidence that banning smacking would save a single child from brutality. Some earnest people of good intent are caught up in this - but, mainly, this is about political elites wanting to look good to their mates. This cause attracts dud science and dishonest rhetoric, and feeds the same impulses as previous decades' recovered memory syndrome and satanic abuse panics - and, no doubt, witchcraft trials centuries ago.
24th November 2003
NZ Herald Editorial: Two parents still the family ideal
From time immemorial human beings have found that a man and woman cohabiting and sharing the care of their young is most conducive to social stability and the survival of the species. But New Zealand's Minister of Social Development disagrees. Steve Maharey told a family policy conference last week there was nothing especially good about the traditional two-parent family... It seems to be the Government's serious view that two parents are not preferable to one... If bodies such as the new Families Commission are going to live in fear of favouring the traditional two-parent family they will be a waste of time and money. The first thing the commission ought do is present Mr Maharey with some social science on the relative success of the nuclear family. That might restore some sanity to this subject.
Family Court Destroys Families
Judith Collins, National Party Spokesperson for Family writes in her newsletter Celebrating Families: It is my belief and that of so many people who have taken the time to contact me, that the closed status of the Family Court and a lack of accountability have resulted in gross injustices happening to families... Let me tell you that as a lawyer of more than 20 years experience, I have little faith in the family court system. It is a sledgehammer that destroys, not restores, families and it will continue to do so while it is shrouded in secrecy. I was in general practice for more than 15 years. In that time, I dealt with a large number of matrimonial situations and I tried my best to keep them out of court. Once a family goes down the court track, then they are finished.
13th November 2003
Newspaper group asks MPs to open Family Court doors
In a submission to Parliament's justice and electoral select committee, the Commonwealth Press Union argued for greater openness than the Care of Children Bill was proposing. It said that because the Government's clear intention was to relax restrictions on publication, the bill should make clear that reporters had a right to be present in court and could report proceedings, subject to the bill's other restrictions.
5th November 2003
Spiderman Family Court protest in London
One man dressed in a Spiderman outfit has single-handedly been bringing chaos to central London. Since last Friday, David Chick has been perched on top of a 150 ft crane in order to publicise his protest about the way the courts treat separated fathers. Mr Chick is merely the latest estranged father to stage a public protest. Militancy amongst fathers' groups is increasing. They have picketed judges' houses, forced the temporary closure of one court, placed hoax bombs in others and intimidated mothers arriving for hearings. More news reports, photos and discussion of spiderman tower bridge protest here.
3rd November 2003
Brash drops women's affairs role
New National Party leader Don Brash has dropped women's affairs...in his reshuffle of National's parliamentary line-up. Dr Brash said that, given the chance, he would like to abolish the Ministry of Women's Affairs. "I don't frankly think there is any particular merit in having a Ministry of Women's Affairs any more than there is a ministry of men's affairs."
Alexis Stuart comments in an article 'Since we women grew up a long time ago...': I have read most of the nonsense the ministry has emitted in recent times - discussion document after document that marginalise the roles that men and children play in the lives of women. As a woman, a wife and a mother of sons and a daughter, I have found its efforts to manipulate the outcomes of our lives beyond the pale. The kind of forced gender egalitarianism the ministry advocates erodes freedom and ultimately leads to a loss of human dignity.
21st October 2003
Sweeping changes proposed for UK Family Court
There is a silent revolution gathering pace in the corridors of the judiciary that could finally offer an alternative to the antiquated legal system that bedevils the lives of separated parents and their children. With MP Dominic Grieve's early-day motion calling for a legal presumption of contact, radical fathers groups threatening further civil disobedience and celebrities such as Bob Geldof publicly demanding change, the time is ripe. Everyone from parents groups to family-court solicitors agree that the current system is damaging. And now senior high-court judges are publicly conceding that the system isn't working and that sweeping change is needed.
17th October 2003
Child, Youth and Family in crisis
Child abuse and neglect reports are at at a record high. It received 31,781 notifications of possible abuse or neglect in the year to June 30, up more than 15 per cent on the previous year. The turnover of field social workers grew to 15.8 per cent in the past year, compared with 12.3 per cent the year before. Senior staff were most affected, with a turnover of 14.8 per cent - more than double the previous year's figure.
9th October 2003
Dads keen to be with kids, survey shows
According to the latest survey on parenting, dads haven't seen their kids lately and they want to. The Equal Employment Opportunity Trust recently took advantage of Fathers' Day to run an informal, web-based survey asking dads questions about work, life, kids and how men felt about fathering. About 1200 men responded, nearly 1100 of them fathers. The results showed that 80 percent of the men who responded wished they could spend more time with their kids - but 52 percent said conditions at work meant they couldn't.
7th October 2003
Law change to outlaw smacks inevitable, says PM A law change to limit adults striking a child would be controversial but would be in the best interests of children, says Prime Minister Helen Clark. The United Nations has rebuked New Zealand over its smacking laws, and urged the Government to ban all corporal punishment of children. Act justice spokesman Stephen Franks said New Zealanders were sick and tired of "so-called" children getting away with crimes of adult brutality. "The last thing we need is foreigners, from countries with no respect for traditions of freedom, telling decent parents how to raise their children." His colleague, Muriel Newman, said the UN was out of touch with reality and should visit here if it really wanted to know what was going on.
Modify family discipline by finding the middle ground says Northland GP Dr Shane Reti. "A law change banning smacking will fail without the support and understanding of most New Zealanders. Thus, in my view, it is unachievable. There is a middle-ground position that does have widespread support from the public and professional organisations, and is achievable now. Banning parents from hitting children with objects and around the head is a reasonable position to consider."
Reti has done research on community attitudes to hitting children: Setting boundaries around the physical disciplining of children in NZ [104 KB pdf] which showed that 88% of respondants were against hitting a child in anger with an object, and 93% were against hitting a child in anger around the head.
6th October 2003
Scientists have developed a male contraceptive which was 100% effective and side-effect free in trials. The hormonal treatment is a combination of an implant under the skin and injections - meaning men do not have to remember to take a pill every day. Researchers from the Anzac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia, gave the treatment to a relatively small sample of 55 men for a year - and none of their partners became pregnant.
2nd October 2003
Unpaid Child Support
Call to stop no-pay parents skipping NZ Kiwi parents living in Australia owe more than $73 million in unpaid child support and the Government sees little hope of a swift trans-Tasman cash recovery. Including Australian-based parents, the amount owed by errant New Zealand parents has more than doubled in the past three years. By the end of 2002, non-custodial parents owed $617 million compared with $308 million in 1999. National MP Katherine Rich said the Government was not going far enough to recoup that money and non-custodial parents should not be allowed to leave New Zealand owing money.
26th September 2003
Law group seriously concerned at child abuse report
The Law Society has expressed "serious concern" at United Nations figures showing that more children die from maltreatment in New Zealand than almost any other country in the OECD. Initiatives to address the substandard treatment of children in several areas, including health, education and physical welfare, had centred on issues of poverty and lack of education. "While these factors form part of a matrix of issues to be considered, they do not provide the whole answer," family law section deputy chairman Simon Maude said. "If they did, one would have to ask why so many countries less economically and socially stable have significantly better records of child nurturing."
Male Teachers Afraid of Sex Abuse Allegations
NZ Herald Editorial: Male staff essential in our schools One of the sadder trends of modern times is the dwindling number of male teachers in primary schools. Within the past 10 years the proportion of male staff has dropped below 20 per cent. The reasons are three, according to a study just released by the primary teachers' union, the NZ Educational Institute. They are, low pay, low social status and, most disturbing, "the Peter Ellis syndrome".
24th September 2003
Education Ministry too PC
Ministry too PC for men say teachers Matt Robertson, a teacher at Witherlea School, said ministry rules were so inflexible that teachers were forced to ignore them. "The ministry tells you that you are never to be alone with a child, but sometimes the situation you find yourself in dictates that there is no other option. Sometimes you just have to ignore them. They [the rules] are so PC, it's ridiculous."
17th September 2003
Memory a sucker for fabrication
Given the complexities of the human mind and the mechanics of memory, sex- abuse anxieties have resulted in witch-hunts and horrific miscarriages of justice...Work by researchers such as Victoria University psychologist Maryanne Garry has demonstrated how easy it is in a therapeutic setting to implant false ideas into a person's mind - which are then fervently taken to be accurate recollections.
When dads get deadly
Despite the disproportionate amount of publicity these crimes attract when they occur, murder-suicides committed by a father are among the rarest forms of child homicide. AIC research analyst Jenny Mouzos says in her report 'Homicidal Encounters' that biological mothers posed a more lethal risk to their own. Biological mothers account for about 35 per cent of all filicides (about the same proportion as stepfathers and de factos), while biological fathers account for 29 per cent.
16th September 2003
Goff wins Bent Can Opener Award
Justice Minister Phil Goff has won the first-ever Bent Can Opener Award from the New Zealand Skeptics, for refusing to revisit the Christchurch Civic Creche case. "The Christchurch Civic Creche case raises some very real concerns about a whole raft of justice issues," Skeptics chairwoman Vicki Hyde said. "We recognise that it is a can of worms for the minister, but it is one that needs to be opened if we are to continue to have confidence in our justice system."
12th September 2003
Bob Geldof on Fathers
Bob Geldof has called for Britain's "unjust" child custody laws to be scrapped. "The laws are nonsense," said Geldof at the launch of a book on children's welfare to which he has contributed a chapter, in which he writes: "Family law ... left me feeling criminalised, belittled, worthless, powerless and irrelevant." Geldof made an impassioned plea for fathers to be given equal access to their children when a marriage breaks down. He told the audience, which included Cherie Blair, parents should get equal "50-50" access to their children, as in Denmark. The rock star and businessman said he had been "unfairly" treated by the judicial system when he separated from his wife, the late Paula Yates.
Geldof writes: Family law is based on bias and prejudice. The law as it stands promotes pain, hurt and broken families, in direct contradiction to its purpose. Family law doesn't work. It is absurd, blunt and outdated. It is time that it was scrapped and replaced by new legislation that is based not on bias, discrimination, prejudice and unfounded assumptions but on the understanding of the way we live today.
7th September 2003
Call for Men's Affairs Ministry
Photos of the Men's Affairs Group Piknik at the Auckland domain. About 20 guys turned up on Father's Day to discuss lobbying for a Ministry of Men's Affairs.
"There's no doubt it needs to be a permanent political structure which protects men's rights and helps balance the debate about how our society should be," organiser Kerry Bevin said in a Sunday Star-Times report: Men's movement makes a stand for government voice. Man Alive chief executive Alan Blackburn said there was a "gaping hole" in government advice on men's issues and this was causing major problems. Reports were frequently commissioned on women's, children's, elderly and Maori and Pacific Island health issues but nothing specifically for men, he said.
30th August 2003
Communication Course Study Published
Using a domestic violence model focusing on faulty interaction patterns within relationships, a cognitive-behavioural intervention 'Positive Partners, Strong Families' was provided by Men's Centre North Shore to couples to teach communication and conflict resolution skills in a community-based setting. This eight week intervention taught participants to change their own attitudes and behaviours, which could then reflect upon the relationship itself. A pilot assessment was conducted, and a report published [81KB PDF] in the NZ Family Physician.
19th August 2003
Ellis Psychiatrist Exposed
Expert for Ellis case gets blame. An eminent child psychiatrist who helped convict Peter Ellis has been blamed for causing a miscarriage of justice in another sex-abuse case. Christchurch psychiatrist Karen Zelas was found by the Court of Appeal to have "gratuitously" exceeded the scope of permissible expert opinion.
18th August 2003
Australian Fatherhood Conference
Mum's the word on dad. Ten years ago, when journalist Adrienne Burgess dreamt up a book on fatherhood as a timely idea to sell to her publisher, she never imagined it would lead her to become an international expert on fatherhood, to establish a British organisation promoting fathering and become an adviser to the Blair Government on policy issues. Having left Australia for Britain as a university student, Burgess, 54, is back in her native country as keynote speaker at a fatherhood strategy conference being held today at Parliament House in Canberra. She's excited to discover fatherhood is now very much on the agenda in Australia, with parliamentarians such as Mark Latham and Larry Anthony lining up to plan future policy with academics, researchers and people working with fathers across the country.
Bid to boost nation's dads. Ms Burgess told the Herald Sun the family dynamic had changed a great deal since the 1950s, when women primarily stayed at home. "The need is for dad to be at home more now," she said.
14th August 2003
National conference on fatherhood to be held in Canberra. The Australian father, once a distant figure associated for many children mainly with the office and the pub, has been going through big changes in the last few decades. With the big increase in women in the workforce, many more fathers are spending time with their children and taking up more of the parenting roles they once might have avoided. There are more single dads, too, and a bitter tribe of men who believe the family courts have deprived them of their rightful relationships with their children.
6th August 2003
Anti-Family NZ Government
Families an Endangered Species by Dr Muriel Newman. Amid ongoing concerns about the Government's sinister anti-family agenda - and the detrimental effect it could have on children in the future - figures released by the Department of Child Youth and Family paint a grim picture of the immediate outlook for tens of thousands of New Zealand children... In order to better understand why political parties would want to devalue marriage and the family, I asked our Parliamentary Library to provide some background reading. It appears that Labour's anti-family agenda springs from its socialist ideological roots: the Communist Manifesto in 1848 called for "the abolition of the family". Closer to home and closer to our times, the Autumn 2000 issue of the Socialist Review Aotearoa New Zealand describes the nuclear family as an instrument of capitalism. It argues that the nuclear family represses women and must be replaced if women are to be liberated from oppression within a capitalist society.
3rd August 2003
Ellis Interview Transcripts Published
CYF fails to stop Ellis testimony. Child, Youth and Family has failed to stop a businessman from publishing never-before-exposed children's testimonies he says will exonerate convicted paedophile Peter Ellis. Children's Commissioner Roger McClay confirmed he also wanted the transcripts, due to fill a double-page advertisement in Sunday papers, stopped. National Business Review publisher Barry Colman, who has never met Ellis or any of the children, says the interviews will show Ellis was an innocent victim of a hysterical witch hunt and he wants a commission of inquiry to prove it. The transcripts showed some children had been interviewed up to six times. Mr Colman believes the jury only heard interviews that suited the prosecution. "As a former journalist I think what I have shown is a pretty good representative case but there is still some suspicion among some critics that . . . we are providing selective evidence, so to make the whole thing transparent I am going to have a website built that will feed 100 per cent of the transcripts on it."
28th July 2003
Meeting about Child Support
Photos and report of meeting with IRD Child Support held in Auckland by Men's Centre North Shore.
Labour 'Thought Police'
Peter Dunne's Speech to Tawa Union of Fathers. We are very concerned about some of the legislation that Labour has planned, because we believe that it will have a very different effect on the family as we know it. The Care of Children Bill is a classic example. United Future will not support the bill because it has clearly been hijacked by the thought-police within Labour's ranks. The definition of 'father' in the bill is so wide open that it could include the lesbian partner of a mother. Well I'm very sorry to break it to the government, but dads are dads, and no amount of dismissing what has happened as a drafting technicality will change that.
Damages Awarded for Lost Father
Two Wellington women have won Privy Council backing to sue a social worker and a psychologist they claim removed them from their father in 1988 after false allegations of sexual abuse. In a just-delivered decision, the Privy Council overturned High Court and Court of Appeal rulings that stopped the women suing for $550,000 damages each for upset to their lives and the trauma of being removed from their father after one of them falsely made allegations of abuse when aged five. The New Zealand courts refused to hear their suit, saying protection workers investigating abuse allegations might overlook the best interests of a child if they knew their actions might be subject to minute evaluation in a damages action.
25th July 2003
Single Parents & Poverty
Deborah Coddington. It is just not possible to address social problems in New Zealand - falling education standards, rising crime, increased spending on welfare - without linking these failings to the destruction of the traditional family. But this has become the problem that dare not speak its name. Public commentators, journalists and academics - the 'bien pensant' elite - bend over backwards to avoid making the link between single parenthood and poverty, lest someone be offended. I don't care what the modern legislators try to say - a normal family unit is Mum, Dad and the kids. Mum's a she, Dad's a he, and the kids are whatever results. I'm not saying anything else should be illegal, or should be banned from having children. Just don't try and pass it off as a normal family. The traditional family's worth fighting for. Like Dads, they're fast becoming an endangered species.
22nd July 2003
Left's Commitment to Undermine Families
Muriel Newman's Speech To Union Of Fathers, Tawa. In a democracy, politics is the battle for the hearts, minds and votes of its citizens. In New Zealand, nowhere is this struggle so evident as in regard to the family. The parties of the left - Labour, the Progressives and the Greens - are all committed to the continued undermining of marriage and the traditional nuclear family. Their agenda is to normalise alternative family arrangements and increase welfare dependency. As a result of the government's elevation of more unstable family structures, the rate of family breakdown and dysfunction will grow, and the demand for social welfare services will increase. Further, the relentless infiltration of the state's power into the lives of citizens - and even communities - will continue, undermining their own ability to be strong, independent and responsible.
17th July 2003
MP Prosecuted for Criticising Family Court
National MP Nick Smith and two media outlets will be prosecuted for contempt of court by the Solicitor-General over a Family Court custody case. The Nelson MP has been calling for an inquiry into a case in which parents in his electorate have been fighting for custody of their own child for three years in the Family Court. Dr Smith said the charge against TV3 related to a 20/20 programme in May and the one against Radio NZ related to two items aired in late April. Dr Smith said: "I cannot believe that in a free and democratic country I am being criminally charged for saying that a boy should be with his mum and dad.
Donations to assist Nick Smith with his legal fees can be made to: The Parents Rights and Open Justice Trust, PO Box 1637, Nelson.
11th July 2003
Feminist Agenda Wages War on Families
Muriel Newman: A Crumbling Society. Most New Zealanders think of a 'family' as Mum and Dad, who are married with children. Yet, over the years, Labour - gripped by, what can only be described as, an influential feminist agenda - has waged war on the family, driving through legislation to destabilise and debase marriage and fatherhood...The reality is that marriage is the most effective child-rearing institution ever invented. The married family has been described as the "bedrock of social stability", through the safeguards it provides for the upbringing of children. Research now clearly shows that unmarried families present vastly more risks of physical and sexual abuse to children than do married couples.
4th July 2003
Separated Father Suicide Cover-up
Suicidal men need support, not sneers - Bettina Arndt. Two months ago the [Australian] federal Health Department held a workshop on what is now our key suicide risk group: males aged 25-44. The participants included people working in suicide prevention from all over the country academics, health bureaucrats and counsellors working on men's help lines and related services. The overwhelming message from most of the latter group was that relationship breakdown is a major trigger for male suicide, exacerbated by men's experiences with the family law system. This was supported by a study released this week by the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Queensland's Griffith University, on 15,000 Australians, which found relationship breakdown the major cause of suicide, with the male risk four times that of females. But there were many in the workshop determined to resist naming separated men as an "at risk" group, let alone seeking further research on risk factors for these men.
30th June 2003
Divorce as Revolution - by Stephen Baskerville. For some thirty years now a quiet revolution has been waged throughout the Western world. Most people are now familiar with the social consequences of the divorce explosion: the growth of single-parent homes and massive increase in fatherless children. The Pandora's box of social problems this has released has also reached general awareness. Virtually every major personal and social pathology can be traced to fatherlessness more than to any other single factor: violent crime, substance abuse, unwed pregnancy, truancy, suicide, and more. Fatherlessness far surpasses both poverty and race as a predictor of social deviance. The result of three decades of unrestrained divorce is that huge numbers of people - many of them government officials - now have a vested professional and financial interest in encouraging it. Divorce today is not simply a phenomenon; it is a regime - a vast bureaucratic empire that permeates national and local governments, with hangers-on in the private sector.
Male Teachers Fear Sex Accusations
Male teachers fear contact with young children - research. Men are avoiding teaching in primary schools because they fear contact with children exposes them to allegations of sexual abuse, according to new research. Men make up only 13.6 per cent of classroom teachers in primary schools. Educators say more are needed to combat boys' under-achievement, and have called for targeted scholarships to boost their numbers. But Christchurch College of Education research shows scholarships may not be enough to override men's anxiety about physical contact with children - and thereby suspicion of sexual abuse.
29th June 2003
Peter Ellis Commission of Inquiry
Minister must act now on Ellis case - Frank Haden. The nationwide demand for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the shonky conviction of Peter Ellis now looks as if it will be satisfied by pressure from within the government caucus. Many government MPs, restrained only by the party whip from signing the petition of prominent New Zealanders seeking a Royal Commission presented to parliament on Tuesday, are increasingly restive. Prime Minister Helen Clark is understood to be uneasy about the continued refusal of Justice Minister Phil Goff to ignore the bad advice he is getting from the top levels of his ministry.
28th June 2003
As pressure builds around the Christchurch Civic Creche case, Ellis refuses to be cowed by his child-abuse convictions, or life generally. In his most candid interview since leaving prison, Peter Ellis talks to Matt Conway.
The fate of the petition calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Peter Ellis case rests with Parliament's justice and electoral select committee. Committee chairman Christchurch Central MP Tim Barnett said the petition had been received by the committee and the Ministry of Justice and petitioners had been asked to provide a briefing.
One of the original complainants in the Christchurch Civic Child Care Centre case is among those to sign a petition calling for a Commission of Inquiry into Peter Ellis' convictions. The complainant, who testified at depositions but not at Ellis' trial, says she first began to doubt Ellis' guilt when she was 13 years old. Now aged 18, she wants answers as to what actually happened at the creche during her pre-school years.
With her book, A City Possessed, Lynley Hood has reflected a widespread view that Ellis may have been the victim of a cause. Nobody needs to have read the book to share an impression that social workers and police, in their determination to prosecute child abuse, sometimes seem too credulous where the claims of children are concerned.
27th June 2003
NZ should follow Australia on Custody
Missed Opportunities - Dr Muriel Newman. It is of deep concern to find that New Zealand and Australia are now heading in completely opposite directions in the important area of family law policy. The new Care of Children Bill recently released by our government and debated in Parliament this week, identifies the diversity of families as one of its cornerstones and sole maternal custody in the event of parental separation, as another. Australia on the other hand places central value on the traditional nuclear family and is now considering abolishing sole maternal custody as the predominant family law outcome in favour of shared parenting. Shared parenting ensures that when parents separate, children are not deprived of their fathers, but retain frequent and ongoing contact with both parents.
26th June 2003
Australian Fatherhood Forum
The Twelve Point Plan, created by the Fathering Forum, to strengthen and support Australian fathers, was launched today by Mr Mark Latham, Federal Labor MP; as well as the Hon Larry Anthony, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs and Senator Paul Calvert, President of the Senate. On 10th February 2003, over 35 people, representing many organisations, gathered for the inaugural National Fathering Forum organised by the Fatherhood Foundation, at Parliament House, Canberra. Delegates came at their own cost with the common goal to strengthen and support Australian fathers and 'to turn the tide of fatherlessness' that exists in Australia. The forum delegates who presented papers are united by the common belief that fatherlessness and family breakdown are major social problems in Australian society.
25th June 2003
Children of divorced parents who are separated from one parent due to the custodial or non-custodial parent moving beyond an hour's drive from the other parent are significantly less well off on many child mental and physical health measures compared to those children whose parents don't relocate after divorce, according to new research. The findings, say the study authors, cast doubt on the current legal presumption that a move by a custodial parent to a destination that the moving parent believes will improve his or her life will also be in the best interest of the children that moves with them. The study appears in the June issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Family Psychology, a special issue on linkages between family psychology and the law, and is the first study to provide direct evidence of the effect of relocation on children after divorce.
Counselling Can Delay Recovery
Counselling can add to post-disaster trauma. The counselling routinely offered to people in the immediate aftermath of a disaster seldom protects them from developing post-traumatic stress - and it could even delay their recovery. This is the conclusion of a comprehensive review of the "single-session debriefings" offered to victims straight after an incident. In single-session debriefings, a counsellor talks to a victim to help them learn about and prepare for any psychological problems they might encounter later. The review by a British team suggests it can exacerbate stress in some individuals who might otherwise have recovered normally, either by talking with friends and family or by blocking out any recall of the incident until they felt ready.
23rd June 2003
Nick Smith Threatened with Prosecution
MP Nick Smith has failed to gain support from Parliament's Speaker Jonathan Hunt in a legal battle which threatens to force him out of his job. Solicitor-General Terence Arnold has told Dr Smith that he risks being prosecuted for contempt of court for criticising the way the Family Court handled a case involving a Nelson family. Dr Smith said he had received "very strong support from across the political spectrum" and was now awaiting a decision from Mr Arnold about whether the prosecution would proceed.
22nd June 2003
Violence Research Challenges Feminists
It is not just men who hit women. Women hit men, too. And the latest research shows that ignoring the role women play in domestic violence does both women and men a disservice. There is little doubt that women get hurt more than men. She may slap him. But then he may hit her harder or more often. By not understanding the mutual role they often play, women are at great risk for injury, new studies show. Still, the newest findings challenge the feminist belief that "it is men only who cause violence," says psychologist Deborah Capaldi of the Oregon Social Learning Center. "That is a myth." The number of women who hit first or hit back is "much greater than has been generally assumed," Capaldi says. She says she is surprised by the frequency of aggressive acts by women and by the number of men who are afraid of partners who assault them. Some of the data is from Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study.
20th June 2003
Australians to Consider Joint Custody
Joint custody is usually better for children of divorced parents - and the Government might agree, writes Bettina Arndt. John Howard made a crucial decision this week to support a new look at child custody. By doing this he is acknowledging the festering community discontent over the failure of the family law system to effectively handle this most emotional issue. Next week, federal cabinet will meet to approve terms of reference for an inquiry into child custody issues by the House of Representatives family and community affairs committee. These seem set to include not only a presumption favouring joint custody but also, amazingly, the question of whether the Child Support Act is fair to both parents, as well as changes in child support to cover costs of contact. These are all highly controversial issues. Very few Australian children experience the type of care they would prefer after divorce - namely equal care by both parents. Our adversarial family law system, and a long history of the Family Court awarding "custody" to mothers, has meant that most children of divorced parents are brought up with their fathers cast in a visiting dad role, and contact with the child often at the whim of the mother.
19th June 2003
UK Government War on Men
Human rights are not for men - by Melanie Phillips. The [British] government's war against men is now plumbing ever more astonishing depths. On Radio Four's Today programme yesterday, the Home Secretary David Blunkett could scarcely wait to boast of new proposals to deal with domestic violence. Such crimes are indeed a serious matter. But the Home Office not only continues to distort them as overwhelmingly caused by male aggression against innocent women and children, against all the evidence that this is not the case. The problem was, Mr Blunkett enthusiastically explained, that at present "you have to get someone through court" before a domestic violence suspect can be restrained. So his solution is to restrain them before they even get to court. In other words, he wants action taken against a man on the basis of an unproven allegation by a woman - made under the protection of anonymity, to boot. So much for this Home Secretary's understanding of the presumption of innocence, the meaning of justice and the necessity for a trial of the facts. Even worse, despite the fact that he has just given the women's refuge movement extra millions in public funds, he thinks women should not have to move out when they claim they are being attacked. The men they are accusing should move out instead, pronto. So men will now be evicted from their homes simply on the basis of an accusation.
18th June 2003
A dramatic shift in Australian family law could see divorced parents given automatic shared custody of their children. Prime Minister John Howard told Coalition MPs yesterday he was "interested in the broad concept" of rebuttable joint custody - where the court presumes a child should spend equal time living with each parent unless there are strong reasons against it. His spokeswoman said later that the Prime Minister was "mindful of the need for male role-models for children, and the desire for both parents to have continuing responsibility for their upbringing".
Michigan Child Support Reformed
Child support faces overhaul. In a public hearing Thursday, the Michigan Supreme Court will take comments from parents, lawyers and county court officials on the most dramatic child support proposal in more than 15 years. Proposed new guidelines would reduce child support for any noncustodial parent who has his or her children for 52 or more overnights per year. Men's groups hail the proposed changes as a measure of progress toward divorce equity. At least three-fourths of all parents paying child support - still men in the majority of cases - would become eligible for the reduction, compared with fewer than 20 percent under current guidelines. Women's organizations oppose the changes, arguing that nights spent with dads don't decrease the kids' basic needs.
16th June 2003
Pacific Women Violent
Domestic violence against Pacific Island women is well documented but a new study claims many women are lashing out at their partners. The Auckland University of Technology research reveals that more than 50% of the 1,400 Pacific Island women surveyed admit to violent behaviour at home. Campaigns to stop domestic violence nearly always show men as the aggressors but the study's author has unearthed a different trend. Of those surveyed, 35.1% admitted they were responsible for committing minor violence in the home in ways such as throwing objects, pushing and slapping. And 19.3% said they had attacked their partners in a more serious manner through kicking, biting, strangling or using a weapon. The total of nearly 55% is almost double those who say they are victims of domestic violence.
13th June 2003
'Sexualised Behaviour' Convicts NZ Father
A Palmerston North District Court jury yesterday found a 39-year-old man guilty of one count of indecently assaulting his daughter. The man's counsel, Mike Behrens QC, told the jury his client was the victim of a campaign by his former wife to discredit him. She had turned the girl into "a peddler of her mother's influences", he said. "By a process that is quite horrifying when you look at it... she sowed and nurtured in her daughter a story which has seen (the man)...end up in this court." The mother's actions had turned an "innocent, fatherly action" (bathing his daughters) into "something vile". Prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk said [psychological] evidence of the now 11-year-old complainant's sexualised behaviour, and what might have triggered it, was the most important aspect of the case.
An article in the latest U.S. Psychiatric News False Sex Abuse Accusations Lead to Revision of Theories, says research in the last decade indicates that most interview techniques and assumptions used in alleged child sexual abuse cases are seriously flawed. Thus, psychiatrists should be sure to read the latest literature before they testify in such cases. "I am amazed at experts who, despite the lack of evidence, continue to rely on a child's behaviour as an indicator of sex abuse," said psychiatrist Diane Schetky, M.D, who has served as an expert witness in numerous cases of alleged child sexual abuse in the last 25 years. Research has shown that sexualised behaviour, for example, can be attributed to a number of other causes, including family sexuality, violence, and hours spent in day care, according to Schetky. Investigators have widely used children's drawings, diagrams, and anatomically correct dolls to yield information that might support allegations of child sexual abuse. The research showed that between 23 percent and 33 percent of child sexual abuse cases involved false allegations.
Males Becoming Endangered Species
Dr. John Langley, Principal of the Auckland College of Education says the Neglect of males is a social tragedy in the making. "Something is going very wrong. We males are fast becoming an endangered species. Endangered in terms of both our chances of success or, even worse, making it to a ripe old age. Let's look at the facts. Within our education system it is very clear that our boys and young men are not succeeding nearly as well as girls and young women. This begins early in critical areas such as reading and other areas of literacy and continues through school, manifesting itself in poorer results at almost every level of the secondary system. In addition to the increasing sneering about their failure, our boys and young men account for over 80 per cent of those defined as behaviour problems at school, 75 per cent of those stood down or suspended from school, over 80 per cent of those who appear in the criminal justice system, represent most of those who develop serious mental health conditions and, tragically, those who end their lives prematurely through suicide. In short, the statistics describing the plight of males are more comprehensive than any of the breakdowns based on ethnic or socio-economic grounds. To cap it off, if we make it through all that, we die younger."
Care of Children Bill a Failure
In her speech in the Parliamentary General Debate, Dr. Muriel Newman said "In spite of Labour's assurances, the Care of Children Bill failed to introduce either shared parenting, or to open up the Family Court. The changes made to the Family Court in the Bill are Clayton's changes, simply paying lip service to the notion of openness. While open justice and a free press should be fundamental to the democratic process, New Zealand has a Family Court that all too often operates like a Star Chamber, putting gagging orders on all involved: victims are not permitted to speak of their experiences, and the media cannot report on cases for fear of criminal convictions, even jail. There is a long established legal principle that justice is not done unless it is seen to be done."
Lawyer Catriona MacLennan thinks the Family Court changes are a mixed bag, but mostly she approves. She says "the Government appears to be attempting to pander to critics of the Family Court without accepting the criticisms. It is nonsense to suggest that mothers are invariably awarded day-to-day care of children in disputed cases and that the Family Court is biased against men. Most judges in the court are, in fact, male."
12th June 3003
The Government is promising a hasty revision of a new family bill that appears to allow a woman in a lesbian relationship to become a child's father. The Care of Children Bill provoked an uproar in Parliament yesterday, with both National and Government support party United Future accusing Labour of social engineering. The Prime Minister says the wording of the bill is a minor technical drafting matter.
Petition for Peter Ellis Inquiry
Finlay Macdonald - Editor NZ Listener That Petition. Along with several other practitioners of my trade, and a large number of far more eminent personages, I signed the petition. There are those who believe that this compromises some notion of editorial independence, but I would argue that the only bias it betrays is one in favour of examining all the facts pertaining to the Ellis case and clearing up once and for all a festering legal and moral sore. Obviously this is motivated by a deep suspicion that something has gone wrong; the petition is about Ellis's conviction being beyond reasonable doubt, and its signatories harbour very reasonable doubts that it was.
9th June 2003
Peter Ellis says he was "absolutely astounded" to learn of the well-known New Zealanders who had lent their signature to a top level inquiry into his conviction. National MPs Don Brash and Katherine Rich have begun a petition calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch civic creche child abuse case. It aims to gather signatures of about 100 prominent New Zealanders.
Nelson MP Nick Smith says he has been "inundated" with new cases of people concerned about the workings of the Family Court since being warned that he may be prosecuted for possible contempt of the court. In a new twist, Dr Smith's colleague Murray McCully has complained to Mr Arnold that the chief Family Court judge, Patrick Mahony, also breached the Guardianship Act by making comments about the Nelson case.
5th June 2003
Men's Leisure Time Shrinking
If men ever dared to reflect wistfully on former glories of patriarchy, high on the list would be the freedom once enjoyed by the man of the house to come and go as he pleased. Men's unrestricted leisure time has been shrinking for years, according to Dr Michael Bittman from the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of NSW. Doug Stevens, a social science researcher at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, has analysed time-use data and finds that during this early breeding period - when families have children under five - men spend 4.2 per cent more time working than their wives do (when paid work hours are combined with household work).
4th June 2003
Families Commission Bill
Submissions are invited on the Families Commission Bill The closing date is 11th July. "It is important that the Commission is responsive to the broad range of families in New Zealand and their interests. The Commission will therefore be required to establish mechanisms to obtain the views of various communities of interest, including...groups that represent families or family members, and groups that have a particular interest in families or in any 1 or more matters related to the Commission's functions (for example, groups representing parents, mothers, fathers, children or young persons, men, women, social service providers, academics, researchers, family law specialists, employers, or workers)."
Men's groups promoting hatred, report says. A Canadian federally
funded report School Success by Gender: A Catalyst for the Masculinist Discourse
says "masculinists" are orchestrating a backlash against feminism and blaming women for oppressing and discriminating against men. The report's authors claim that masculinists portray men as victims and link feminism with boys' poor performance in schools, male suicide, loss of male identity and discriminatory divorce and child custody laws. Among the report's recommendations is that an organization similar to Hate Watch be established to monitor men's groups on the Web, that inciting hatred on the basis of gender should be a hate crime and that women's groups establish a network to counter the masculinists' views. National Post Canada (link) May 30th 2003.
Feminism's Third Wave Today's young women thus climb the corporate heights, entering dream careers earning six- and even seven-figure incomes. They acquire beautiful sports cars, commodious homes, and the respect of hundreds to thousands of subordinates in hectic Palm-Pilot worlds. Sometime in the midst of this material utopia, New Single Woman suddenly finds herself in an epic crisis: she's 35 to 40 and still unmarried with no prospects in sight and rapidly expiring eggs in her ovaries. This leads to a furious hunt for a hubby who's every bit as brilliant, gorgeous, sexy, hip, financially successful, and personally accomplished as she is and guess what? He's nowhere to be found. Ergo, "There are no good men left." If you think this is a joke, it's not. It's feminism's Third Wave, where women run to expensive relationship consultants like Barbara DeAngelis (who's been divorced 4 times), join speed-dating groups, and post photos of themselves on Yahoo! Personals to few takers. Essay by Angela Fiori. (link) 23rd May 2003.
Police seek costs for false rape claim Nelson police are seeking more than $3000 in costs from the family of a 16-year-old girl who made a false rape complaint. Detective Craig Johnston said the Motueka teenager told officers that at about 4.30pm on Saturday she had been dragged into bushes by two men near the Tahunanui roller skating rink. Mr Johnston reinterviewed the teenager yesterday and she admitted making a false complaint. He said police took all complaints seriously and the teenager's actions could have had serious consequences for the falsely accused men. Nelson Mail (link) 21st May 2003.
Pay equity scheme 'completely unacceptable' - Business NZ Business New Zealand has joined with opposition parties to lambast a Government decision to develop a plan for progressing pay equity among public servants. The Government has appointed a taskforce to develop a five-year action plan to analyse factors influencing pay and employment equity. The plan would address the gender gap, which Labour Minister Margaret Wilson said was not just a matter of unfair bargaining practices or undervaluation of traditional female occupations. Business NZ executive director Anne Knowles said "To try and reintroduce the failed policies of the past shows a lack of recognition of commercial reality, and will only harm the economy." Her comments concurred with the ACT party's Heather Roy, who said Ms Wilson was "taking feminism too far" and the only result would be to increase the burden on taxpayers who would foot the bill for higher salaries. Stuff (link) 14th May 2003.
Mckenzie Friend Workshop held in Auckland Over 30 people turned up to hear lawyer Rod Hooker give some useful advice and information to people supporting fathers in the Family Court. Photos and notes about the McKenzie Friend workshop. 18th May 2003.
Smacking law change put on hold A change to the law which allows parents to smack their children has been put on hold for at least two years while an education campaign is run, the Government announced today. Social Services Minister Steve Maharey supports a law change to ban smacking, which is currently allowed under Section 59 of the Crimes Act, while Youth Affairs Minister John Tamihere supports the "right of parents to give their kids a slap". NZPA - Stuff (link), more on smacking 14th May 2003.
Absent fathers linked to teenage pregnancies Numerous studies show that girls reach puberty younger, become sexually active earlier and are more likely to get pregnant in their teens if their father was absent from the home from when they were young. But the usual explanation - that such families are under more stress - is now being challenged by a long-term study of girls in New Zealand and the US, the Western countries with the highest teen pregnancy rates. A team led by psychologist Bruce Ellis of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, followed more than 700 girls from preschool to age 17 or 18, monitoring 10 different aspects of their lives including family income, behavioural problems, exposure to violence and parenting styles. New Scientist (link) 14th May 2003.
CYF in grip of staff exodus Child, Youth, and Family lost nearly six staff a week over the past year but the Government agency says it has the employee exodus under control. Figures released to The Press show 290 of the department's 2000 staff left in the year to March 31. This was a slight drop on the 322 staff who quit over the previous 12 months, but still a turnover of between 14 and 16 per cent. The figures follow revelations that public confidence in CYF is lower than for any other public sector organisation in New Zealand. Stuff (link) 13th May 2003.
Howard Government delivers for men and their families Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Family and Community Services, Ross Cameron, today released the final report of the Independent Evaluation of the Men and Family Relationships Program. "Over the past five years, the Government has spent $22 million to assist more than 20 000 men through 53 special projects in rural, regional and metropolitan Australia," Mr Cameron said. "This report highlights the benefit of delivering family support services to men in a friendly and non-judgmental manner." Media Release, Programme Evaluation Reports 13th May 2003.
Girls go to the top of the class Girls have outstripped boys in National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) pass rates, completing a treble of dominance including Sixth Form Certificate and Bursary. A gender breakdown shows an achievement gap between the sexes with 63 per cent of girls passing, compared to 52 per cent of boys. The Press (link) 13th May 2003.
A second international literacy study has revealed that while New Zealand has some of the top students in the world in terms of reading comprehension, there is a wide gap between high and low achievers. New Zealand also had one of the biggest gaps in achievement between boys and girls. Education Gazette (link - scroll down) 5th May 2003.
Law Commission report on Family Court 'Window Dressing' The Government-commissioned study lists 135 recommendations for improving Family Court services, ranging from the increased use of mediators to resolve disputes to better explanations of decisions so the court could avoid accusations it has a "pro-feminist, anti-male bias". The report found no evidence to back up claims, some from men's lobby groups, of bias against fathers in custody proceedings. NZ Herald (link)
The Union of Fathers says proposed changes to the Family Court are nothing more than window
dressing, which do not tackle the court's bias against men. The Union has fired a broadside at
the Attorney-General over the appointment of Queens Counsel Vivienne Ullrich as a new Family
Court judge. Ms Ullrich wrote the Law Commission report. Darrell Carlin says it is not a good look. IRN News
Download the Law Commision report (938 KB PDF) 11th April 2003.
Attitudes change on stay-at-home dads Ten years ago, when Andrea Doucet's husband stayed at home to raise their two-year-old daughter, he stopped taking her to children's play groups. As the only dad in a sea of moms, he didn't feel welcome. In particular, he couldn't shake the feeling that the women saw him as an unemployed loser or a sexual predator. His experience made Ms. Doucet, a sociology professor at Carleton University, wonder about the lives of other stay-at-home fathers. In 2000 - the year changes to federal law granted parents longer paid leave to care for their children - Ms. Doucet began interviewing more than 100 fathers across the country. Her in-depth portrait of Canadian fatherhood suggests a dramatic shift in parenting is under way. At the same time, public attitudes toward stay-at-home dads are rapidly changing. "It's more acceptable now for dads to be the primary caregivers than it was 10 years ago, when my husband was looking after our daughter," says Ms. Doucet. (link) 9th April 2003.
Crackdown aims at DPB mums Mothers on benefits will be hit deeper in the pocket if they will not name the fathers of their children, under a planned benefit crackdown. Social Services Minister Steve Maharey wants to raise the $22-a-child penalty that can be deducted from a single mother's domestic purposes benefit if the father is unknown. Almost 16,500 mothers getting the DPB cannot or will not name the fathers of their children. His planned legislation would include requiring backdated child support payments when a father's identity was learned. The Dominion Post (link) 8th April 2003.
Protest at Manukau Family Court Upon ringing the Court and asking for legal help, inquirers were directed to just 2 legal firms. The first was the old practice of Judge Malosi (the new Manukau Family Court Judge) and the second was ex Court worker Anne Day's Family Law Chambers. We have also learned that Lorna McKintosh, one of New Zealand's leading feminist activists, has been appointed PA to Judge Malosi. Photos of protest here. 31st March 2003.
Proceedings of Social Policy Forum 2002 - The Child and the Family Court: Seeking the Best Interest of the Child. Centre for Public Policy Evaluation Issues Paper No.13 (937KB PDF) Edited by Stuart Birks.
- The Child and The Family Court - Judge Patrick Mahony
- Gender and Family Law in the Past 50 Years - Vivienne Ullrich
- The Need for Reform - Mark Henaghan
- An Overseas Perspective on the Family Court - Paul Callister
- Lawyers Representing Children - Simon Jefferson
- Shaping Society - Stuart Birks
- Family Law and the Wider Family - Joan Metge
- Listening to Fathers' Pressure Groups - Warwick Pudney
- Children and Financial Aspects of Family Breakdown - Bill Atkin
Jobs for the boys An Australian teacher desperately seeking role models for the pupils at her school has run into a bureaucratic brick wall. Kurri Kurri preschool director Jannelle Gallagher's plan was to advertise for a male trainee to give her children some relief from the all-female team that looks after them. The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board told her she could apply for an exemption to rules prohibiting gender bias in employment advertising but, "they made it clear we wouldn't have much chance", says Gallagher. And she was firmly told her male trainee was not eligible for an equivalent to the $1500 grant offered to new apprentices under the "women in non-traditional" employment. By Bettina Arndt Sydney Morning Herald (link) 20th March 2003.
New look at no-touch teaching A teachers' policy of avoiding physical contact with children is under review after new research found a vicious circle of self-surveillance and anxiety. University of Auckland education lecturer Alison Jones interviewed 55 primary school teachers and principals on their reluctance to touch children because of widespread social anxiety about sexual abuse. "In many instances, female teachers have had to be called away from their own groups to assist male colleagues afraid to touch or be alone with a child," Dr Jones said. NZ Herald report (link) Download paper: Touching Children: Policy, Social Anxiety and the 'Safe' Teacher (46.2KB PDF) 19th March 2003.
Men's health neglected Despite higher rates of disease and mortality rates, men are missing out on health care because a gender focussed health policy favours women. Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith and Stuart Birks argue in a study published in the New Zealand Family Physician for a needs-based funding policy. (Download paper) [102 KB PDF] 'Gendered approaches to health policy - how does this impact on men's health?' Massey News (link to press release) NZ Herald report (link) 10th March 2003.
More fathers winning child custody cases Australian fathers are increasingly being awarded custody of their children in Family Court cases, new figures released by the court show. Despite persistent criticism that the court is anti-male, almost 20 per cent of child-residence decisions are being settled in the father's favour - twice the rate of earlier decades. University of Sydney law professor and family law specialist Patrick Parkinson said the latest figures showed a cultural shift. The Age (link) 10th March 2003.
CYF legal bills skyrocket, angering families Child, Youth and Family's (CYF) legal bill to place children in care is skyrocketing, angering a parents lobby group. Figures released to NZPA under the Official Information Act show CYF's legal bill more than doubled from $224,410 in 2000 to $532,885 last year. Parents Against Negative Intervention by CYF (PANIC) spokesman John Tonson told NZPA the department had become over-zealous. "There is not enough resources for them to investigate properly so they take the easy option of removing the children and breaking up the family." Stuff (link) 7th March 2003.
Protesting the role of Counsel for the Child The vast majority of the C4C's have no understanding of, or qualifications in, child development. There was a protest outside the Law Chambers at No 1 Sheenan St, Ponsonby. (photos and notes) 4th March 2003.
Meeting with George Hawkins MP Representatives of Separated Fathers Support Trust and Men's Centre North Shore met with the Minister for Police to introduce the new Men's Emergency House and discuss the way Police deal with Domestic Violence. (notes of meeting) 28th February 2003.
Fathers really do matter A study headed by Canterbury University psychologist Bruce Ellis found rates of teen pregnancy increased from about one in 30 among NZ girls who grew up with their fathers, to one in four among girls whose fathers were absent from an early age. Christchurch family therapist Don Rowlands, who works with separated fathers, said the Canterbury study confirmed overseas findings that girls without fathers sought earlier sexual relationships. The Press (link) 26th February 2003.
Cyfs social workers lacking qualifications, report shows Parliament's social services committee, releasing its report on its 2001/02 review of the department, said fewer than half the department's 989 social work staff had the appropriate qualifications. Stuff (link) 25th February 2003.
Judge warns on access to children Divorced or separated mothers who unreasonably persist in refusing to let their children see their fathers could lose the right to have the children live with them, a high court judge warned at the weekend. Sir Nicholas Wall, a family division judge, said he had removed children from their mothers in three such cases and handed them over to their fathers. The Guardian (link). 17th February 2003.
Child access laws put to the test A new law has changed the face of access disputes in South Africa. In the middle of last month, it became a criminal offence for the custodian parent (usually the mother) to prevent the non-custodian parent (usually the father) from seeing his children in accordance with a court order. It means a charge can be laid at a local police station and, following investigation, the mother can be arrested and brought before court. If found guilty, she faces a fine or one year in jail. Independant Online (link) 14th February 2003.
UK Valentine day protest a group of fathers dressed as Elvis Presley delivered a giant inflatable heart to Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, President of the Family Division, at the Royal Courts of Justice, which they call "heartbreak hotel". Fathers 4 Justice are critical of the courts which, they say, leave 40 per cent of fathers without contact with their children after two years. (link to photos). News report in The Times (link). 14th February 2003.
Scale of domestic abuse uncovered One in four adults in Britain has experienced domestic violence, a poll for the BBC suggests. More than a quarter of the women who were questioned - 27% - said they had been physically abused. The corresponding figure for men was 21%. Of those who had been involved in domestic violence, 37% of women had reported an incident to the police, compared with 19% of men. BBC News Online (link). 14th February 2003.
The BBC and gender fascism Tomorrow, the BBC unveils a ten-day season of programming devoted to the subject of domestic violence. There are to be special programmes, topical films, and relevant story-lines in the soaps, all on the same theme. Of course, all violence in the home is a cause for concern. But alas, I fear, this is not to be a dispassionate presentation. On the contrary, this electronic abuse-fest has all the hallmarks of a propaganda onslaught, representing domestic violence as a one-way street in which men are the abusers and women are always the innocent victims. Yet there is overwhelming evidence that this stereotype simply isn't true. Women in the home are just as violent as men -- and more so when it comes to violence against children. Along with the rest of the establishment, the BBC has swallowed wholesale the lies and distortions about domestic violence promoted by extreme, man-hating feminism through the vehicle of deeply dodgy 'research'. Melanie Phillips. (link). 13th February 2003.
Conflict lasts beyond divorce: study Australian researchers have analysed the attitudes of children to their divorced parents and the effects of the divorce on the children's psyches. They interviewed more than 500 children from more than 300 families, divorced and intact. They found that even though the marriage may have ended, the disharmony continued. Divorced couples are also more likely to have conflict with their children, and the children are more likely to have a volatile relationship with each other. A desire to seek comfort in each other is fused with hostility. The Age (link). 13th February 2003.
Valentine's Day & the Gender Wars On Valentine's Day 2003, three and a half decades after the rise of the feminist movement, American men and women often remain bitterly divided. Part of the division between men and women is due to women's legitimate grievances. But much of it is also caused by men's resentment that the very real problems and disadvantages they face as husbands, partners and fathers have been ignored by the media, our lawmakers and by society as a whole. To achieve reconciliation between the genders, it is necessary to address men's grievances. By Glenn Sacks (link). 12th February 2003.
Divorced dads keep the kiddie links alive Divorce once cut the ties between many children and their fathers. But nearly 30 years after Australian research revealed a shocking degree of "father absence", the picture is much brighter. A new study indicates that many more non-resident fathers than in the past see their children regularly. Researcher Bruce Hawthorne said: "Families have changed. More fathers are more involved in their children's lives when the family is together and this seems to be translated to separated families." As well, more mothers seemed to be aware of the value of the father's role beyond being breadwinner. Sydney Morning Herald (link). 11th February 2003.
Are All Dads Equal? When it comes to quality fathering, it is marriage, not biology, that separates the men from the boys, according to a new University of Maryland study. In a paper to be released in the Feb. 3 edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family, Sandra Hofferth, professor of family studies at Maryland, says that married stepfathers are equally good at fathering both their biological and the stepchildren who live with them. In contrast, Hofferth's study shows that cohabiting, but unmarried, male partners who are the biological fathers of the children in the household, don't put in as much time or show as much warmth as married biological fathers. AScribe Newswire (link). 31st January 2003.
Undermining the American Family Today the marriage rate is at its lowest point ever, the divorce rate is near its highest, and more children are living without their fathers than at any time in American history. Yet the prestigious American Law Institute, which exercises great influence on American jurisprudence, has just released a series of family law recommendations that would exacerbate these problems by trivializing the importance of marriage, encouraging divorce and accelerating fatherlessness. By Dianna Thompson and Glenn Sacks (link). 27th January 2003.
One-Parent Children Are Found at Risk Children growing up in single-parent families are twice as likely as their counterparts to develop serious psychiatric illnesses and addictions later in life, according to an important new study. Researchers have for years debated whether children from broken homes bounce back or whether they are more likely than kids whose parents stay together to develop serious emotional problems. Experts say the latest study, published this week in The Lancet medical journal, is important mainly because of its unprecedented scale and follow-up -- it tracked about 1 million children for a decade, into their mid-20s. Report in the New York Times (link). To read the full paper you'll need to register first - The Lancet: Two parents better than one 24th January 2003.
Safe haven for men at risk A house for men, the equivalent of a women's refuge, has opened in Manurewa to address the balance in what proponents say is a system favouring women. Glen Pilkington and Warren Heap from the Auckland Separated Fathers Support Trust say it's the first house of its kind in Auckland and possibly New Zealand. The house provides "emergency support accommodation" for fathers seeking immediate refuge from an abusive relationship and for recently separated fathers who require a supportive environment. Manurewa Week (link) 21st January 2003. (more) 17th January 2003.
Men mostly 'forgotten' in research Social work literature is biased against heterosexual males, leading to "unfair and untrue" stereotypes about men and hampering social workers' ability to counsel men, an Alabama professor has concluded after reviewing articles in two social work journals from the last decade. Out of hundreds of articles, book reviews and published ads, only "a fraction - about 25" - were about men, Jordan I. Kosberg wrote in an article titled "Heterosexual Males: A Group Forgotten by the Profession of Social Work." Of the studies Mr. Kosberg found about men, half were about homosexuals and most of the rest were about men categorized as abusers, absent fathers, AIDS victims, prisoners or homeless. Washington Times (link). 8th January 2003.
First Protest of 2003! Psychologists Gail Ratcliffe and Susanne Blackwell were visited by Union of Fathers protesters (photos of protest here) on 7th January 2003.
- promoting a clearer understanding of men's experience -