Cross-examination of the Mother
The Mother Under Cross-examination By Counsel For The Father
- The mother confirmed that she worked in a (employer omitted) throughout the relationship in Australia. She started work at 6.00 am. She was made (position omitted) in 2011 and started generally at about 5.30 am. The children are quite independent. She said that she opened the business at 5.30 am two times a week. She had different shifts in earlier times. Separation took place in December 2014 and the father spent no time with the children for five and a-half months, apart from the s.11F interview.
- The mother took issue with the completeness of the report of Ms M. She conceded, however, that after 40 minutes with the father, X was no longer nervous with him. The mother was not prepared to give the father any credit for assisting her to have time with X on Mother’s Day.
- The mother said she is not a child psychologist but believed X is scared of her father. She says that she strongly believes what X has disclosed to FMC Counselling (“FMC”). The mother stated that she believes that when the supervisor is not close, the father hurts her again. She said that X does love the father and that the father must love X. When it was put to the mother that she had told Ms S that she proposed a continuation of indefinite supervised time paid for by the father, the mother denied this and said that she had only told Ms S that she wanted such time until the final orders were made. That remark is patently untrue as it conflicts with Ms S’s report and Ms S was not required for cross-examination.
- The mother said she now proposed the father spend no time with X. The father would harm X.
- The mother was taken to the (omitted) incident on 27 September 2015. She confirmed that the report of her call to the supervisor and the attendance of the supervisor was correct (see report page 38). She was taken to the report of the counselling session on 6 October 2015 at FMC, tendered as exhibit ICL1. It was put by counsel to the mother that X had not disclosed any gesture of the father putting his fingers across his throat to Ms G. The mother said she did not remember. She said it was a very emotional time for her. She confirmed that there was a Court hearing on 6 October 2015. At that hearing she had sought to stop all time between X and the father but supervised time continued. The matter was concluded before lunch. She was disappointed and not angry. She denied talking about the Court case with X. She said she did not usually talk about Court cases with her children. She did not comply with the orders made on that day.
- The mother was taken to page 6 of 38 of Ms C’s report. On 30 October 2015, the report indicates that the mother asserted to Ms C that the Independent Children’s Lawyer had suspended supervised time pending the outcome of a child protection application. When this was put to her, the mother said that she had been instructed by her lawyers that the Independent Children’s Lawyer had suspended these orders. It was necessary to take a short adjournment as the mother became distressed. When the matter proceeded, she said that English is not her first language and that she had had a conversation with her lawyer who told her a further application would be made.
- I do not believe this assertion. The mother is sufficiently fluent in English. She was plainly lying to Ms C.
- When pressed further by counsel, the mother said that what she had told Ms C was not true but she was not lying. She used the wrong words. She said she did not want to comply with orders until the court date. She said that DHHS were involved after a notification from FMCA and she did not comply with orders until further orders were made on 16 December 2015 by the Court. She said she did not know if the father should have spent time with X. She said she could not comment on whether the father and X had a bond. She did not see them together. She said she could only conclude from what X says. She said she did not believe there was a strong bond between them. She said there should be a bond between father and daughter. This was important. She said there should be no time, however spent, because of her fears and the threats that the father had made.
- The mother said she was scared X would suffer injury with the father. She told Dr P about the violence since 2006. She was questioned as to whether X was present in March 2014 when the father allegedly slapped A, after which the mother said A’s face was swollen for three days. A was interviewed by Ms S but Ms S said she seemed rehearsed. It was put to her that A could not remember the father hitting her and was 13 or 14 years old two years ago when the incident allegedly occurred. The mother said A would remember it and it definitely happened.
- Counsel cross-examined the mother about the family report made during the currency of the proceedings against her former husband with Mr N. It was put to her that paragraph 11 of the report, involving an interview in February 2011, showed the mother describing an entirely positive relationship with the father. The mother said this was true. She said physical violence started two years ago after he obtained citizenship. She said there was an assault in 2007 and that the father was emotionally controlling after that. There was no physical violence thereafter until two years ago and his behaviour got worse and worse.
- These assertions, of course, are not consistent with her evidence in this case.
- The mother then said that, if she told the truth, there would be consequences at home. What she had told Mr N was not true. She said that the father’s behaviour had become worse in the last two years. The father had a positive relationship with A in 2011.
The Mother Under Cross-examination By The Independent Children’s Lawyer
- The mother said she had read all the reports, which did not reveal any threats by the father to X. She did not accept this. She said there was violence in the last two years. She said at times she was working and the children were left with the father. She had no choice. She did not apply for an Intervention Order because the father threatened her if she went to Court. She said the father said he would change but did not and that X was very scared of him before separation. He was okay until 2012, but started to hit X to educate her. He hit her face.
- The mother was cross-examined about whether X had met the paternal grandmother. She said the language barrier might not assist. At the first visit X was scared.
- When it was put to her that X did not discuss the (omitted) incident at intake with Ms C, the mother replied that this was what X had disclosed. She was seeing the new supervisor for the first time. She said X tells her that she is scared and X was anxious when she saw her father’s car. The mother was further cross-examined about what she had told Ms C at the intake and it is fair to record that I formed the clear impression that some of her answers were made up on the run.
- It was put to the mother that changeover should occur at a supervised contact centre and she agreed this was a good idea. When it was put to her that it might be appropriate that time occur from school to school, she did not answer. The mother was further cross-examined about the incident at (omitted) but little of any moment emerged. The mother stuck to her story. The mother denied contacting the television program, A Current Affair, but said she had applied to the Child Support Agency. She was seeking to change the assessment because she believed the father was working more than indicated. She denied speaking to Centrelink. She then said that A Current Affair had contacted her. She said her details were given to A Current Affair and she spoke to that entity. She told them about the child support problems and the father working. She agreed it would be bad for X to see this.
- In my view, this evidence was prevaricating. The mother was clearly involved with A Current Affair.
- The mother said no one listens to her. She went to the police because of the threat the father made and took X to FMCA because of Court advice that she needed counselling. She said that A spends time with her father, to whom she talks from time to time. She was not sure how communication with the father could occur. She said emails or messages were difficult after the threat to kill. She conceded that telephone time for X with her father would be okay. When asked what she thought the father would do to X, she said he would hurt her physically. She was not opposed to the father sending letters. She said that even under supervision, the father could injure her and X.
- After this admittedly somewhat lengthy and in all probability somewhat turgid to read, paraphrase of the evidence, I turn to the objective evidence. I should emphasise that the above is not a transcript but rather is taken from my notes. It records those aspects of the evidence that struck me as being of significance.