Disclosures lead to risk findings
- From the period commencing about September 2016 until a disclosure was made, the mother says, under oath on 8 November 2016, tensions further increased between these parties. On an interim basis, I do not propose to make any findings about that period save to observe that the mother had, as is clear from the medical records tendered today, been concerned about the child’s health. The medical notes of a consultation with Dr G on 31 May 2016, and subsequently on 21 October 2016 (being about a month after the last unsupervised visit with the father) reflect nothing more than a concerned mother getting appropriate medical attention for her daughter.
- The mother in her Affidavit says that the child made some disclosures to her. The particularisation of those disclosures, said to have been made on five different occasions, is somewhat vague in her current material. I accept that it would be necessary, and will be, considering the extent of her good and quality legal representation, better articulated in any trial material. It is important always to not only look at the words the child utters but to see the context for those words. What questions preceded the disclosure? What was the context of other things going on in the child’s life at that stage?
- There is very little of that context provided in the mother’s current Affidavit. However, the Court would not be critical of any parent who hears something which concerns them about abuse, be it sexual or physical, being hyper-vigilant and seeking to have the matter further investigated. The mother did so. No disclosures were made in a police interview. I have not seen that interview, which I presume was either taped or recorded in some way. The mother sought some form of medical support to possibly exclude sexual abuse, rather than to necessarily find that it occurred, but in any event the medical reports did not do either.
- The sad reality is that because of these disclosures that the mother swears to have been made to her, and her concerns about the child being at risk, the father’s time with the child came to an end. There were no orders that could be enforced and the father brought an application for specific orders in June 2017 in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. After the mother, before Judge Howard on 7 August 2017, raised very serious areas of risk in her Affidavit filed on 4 August 2017, his Honour made orders which transferred the matter to this Court, quite properly, in the likelihood that it would be a Magellan case. His Honour ordered on an interim basis, that an Independent Children’s Lawyer be appointed, ordered that the child live with the mother, and at order 2 made an order that the child spend no time with the father.
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Queensland / New South Wales / Victoria