Mother has child record Family Report interview
Summary – Application for a Recovery Order by the Father for the parties’ two children – long history of proceedings – Mother alleges psychological and physical abuse by the Father towards the children – children to live with the Father and spend supervised time with the Mother.
- Despite the 2013 Orders and the decision of Judge O’Sullivan in June 2015, for at least two years the parties agreed to an arrangement whereby X and Y spent regular time with the Mother being each alternate weekend and one evening during the week despite the Mother not having complied with Order 5 of the 24 June 2015 Orders that she attend upon a psychiatrist for the purposes of assessment and treatment.
- On 26 May 2016 X and Y came home from dinner with the Mother at around 8.30pm.
- The Father had received an email complaint from X’s school regarding his behaviour at school that day. It is the Father’s evidence the school principal had also called him to discuss X’s behaviour.
- It is the Father’s evidence that when he tried to speak to X about the complaint from school, X became aggressive and starting yelling that he wanted to live with his Mother. It is the Father’s evidence that he tried to prevent X from leaving the house and that X kicked the door to his bungalow off its hinges and ran off to the street where the Mother was waiting in her car to take X back to her house.
- On 29 May 2016 the Mother took X to the Police Station and X made a statement to the Police. In that statement X alleges that the Father confronted him about the call from his school, that he got angry with his Father and said he wanted to live with his Mother, that his Father was pushing him, yelling at him, threatening to hit him, refusing to let him leave the house, that he rang his Mother to come and get him and had finally managed to get away from the Father and now lives with the Mother.
- As a result of the statement made by X to the Police, the Father has been charged with breaching the 2013 Interim Intervention Order and with unlawful assault of X. These matters were listed before the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria for Mention on 12 September 2016.
- As can be seen from the background to the matter that was set out in the judgment of Judge O’Sullivan on 24 June 2013, the Interim Intervention Order taken out by the Mother for the protection of herself and Y and X on 21 January 2013 was adjourned sine die by the Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court pending the outcome of the proceedings that were then before the Federal Circuit Court.
- It is the Father’s evidence that he had not realised that this Order has remained ongoing since that time and that he was the subject of an Intervention Order.
- After X’s move to the Mother’s care, the Father did not permit Y to spend time with the Mother. It is his evidence that he was concerned the Mother would try to influence and pressure Y to move to her care or otherwise cause him to make a false report to the Police.
- On Sunday 21 August 2016 the Father woke at around 8.30am to discover that Y was not at his home. The Father contacted the police when he was unable to find Y and they attended his home at about 10.00am. The police rang the Mother who advised that Y was with her.
- It was after Y went to the Mother’s home that the Father’s urgent recovery application was filed.
- The Father’s application came before the Court on 30 August 2016. On that date orders were made for the parties, X and Y to attend for an urgent Child Inclusive Conference pursuant to Section 11F of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) on 1 September 2016 and for the matter to otherwise come back before the Court on Friday 9 September 2015.
- Ms C is a Family Consultant with the Federal Circuit Court and she conducted the Child Inclusive Conference with the parties, X and Y.
- Ms C prepared a Child Inclusive Conference memorandum to Court dated 5 September 2016 and also gave brief viva voce evidence on 9 September 2016.
- In the memorandum to Court under the heading ‘Risk Issues’ Ms C states the following:
- X aged 15 years and the eldest child made allegations to the police in May 2016 that the father assaulted him physically and verbally abused him, when he wanted to leave the father’s home and go to live with his mother after an argument.
- Y aged ten years reported at this interview that he was scared of his father and he had hit on the head with a spoon when he did not pour milk on his sister’s breakfast cereal.
- Ms Isaac reports a history of verbal and physical violence by the father to her and the children.
- Under the heading ‘Children Ms C summarises her discussions with X and Y as follows:
- X has been living with his mother since an incident on 29 May 2016 when after an argument with his father he left and went to his mother’s home.
- The writer enquired about the incident when X left the father’s home and went to his mother’s home. X said he and his father were having a discussion about X being in trouble at school. X has reportedly been rude to teachers, not listening or concentrating with his grades dropping. X said “Dad was siding with the school and not me.”
- When enquiry was made about his views regarding parenting arrangements, X spoke on behalf of his brother and said “we want to live with Mum.” The writer informed X whilst he could make known his wishes for Y the Court may not share his view. In discussion regarding if X was to live with his mother what time he would spend with his father, X said “it is Y’s decision whether he sees Dad or not,” but I know I 100% that I prefer to live with Mum.”
- X has filed a complaint of assault with the police regarding his father.
- Y has not been at his father’s home since 21 August 2016 when he reportedly disappeared from his father’s home. Police follow up with the mother, was that the child Y was with her. It is a concern that the mother did not think to notify the father that Y was with her as he would have been worried.
- The mother appears to manage the children’s lives when they are not with her. Mr Isaac reported that she bought X a small fridge for his room at his home and then proceeded to stock it with food every week. This behaviour by the mother is considered undermining and controlling. Mr Isaac said he requested the mother stop bringing food to the home. He also found numerous lolly wrappers and half -drunk slurpees under Y’s bed, which he believes are from Ms Isaac providing him with food.
- X reported that he did not feel safe with his father. He said “he swears at me and my brother and pushes me and there are more violent situations with my Dad, he pushed me in the ribs with his fist……do you know what I mean?” Further exploration with X about the reported harm he suffers in the father’s home and at the hands of his father is that “he is unfair, he beats us, and Dad didn’t back Y up when she [Ms I, father’s partner] hit Y, he chokes me and pulls my hair.” X was rude and unforgiving towards his stepmother. X continued with a litany of complaints about the food in the paternal home in that it was no good or enough.
- X said “my wish has always been to live with Mum.” According to X his mother provides for him, that he wakes up with a clear mind, they go out together.
- Y advised he is aged ten and a half and that he plays (hobby omitted) and is in Year 4 at school. In discussion with Y about what led to him “running away” to live with his mother and brother, he said “I left because everyone was mean to me, last week I didn’t pour the milk for my stepsister and my Dad hit me on the top of my head with a spoon.” Y said “he [father] scares me.” Y recalled another incident in the long summer holidays of 2014/2015 which had a rehearsed quality to it, and also told to the writer by X. Y said he was hit or slapped by Ms I [father’s partner]. He said “My brother he took me out of the car and put me somewhere else.” X indicated in his interview, it is his job to protect Y.
- Y, like his brother, indicated he does not like his stepmother or her daughter.
- According to the father the police did not intervene or assist him to recover the children to his care.
- Mr Isaac has been charged with breaching an Intervention Order which he claims he did not know existed as it was from January 2013, nonetheless the Order did and does exist.
- The children are saying they do not want to go back to live with their father
- Under the heading ‘Co-parenting Relationship Ms C stated the following:
- This relationship appears embittered and lacks any effective communication regarding the needs of the children.
- The issues that were presented at this interview are not dissimilar to those when the family reports were undertaken in 2012/2013 and also in previous reports to DHHS. X in particular, claims an unhappy relationship with his father who he indicated he is scared of and who has reportedly physically abused him.
- Y is younger and he decamped on Sunday 21 August 2016, from the father’s home to live with his mother and brother. It remains unclear how much assistance Y may have had from the mother and X to leave the paternal home.
- Mr Isaac denies that he physically hurt X, but acknowledges that he did try and stop him from leaving the home. The father denies that he knew X was injured after playing sport and deliberately did not take him to the doctors for assistance and scans.
- The mother is clearly a powerful influence on the children and her capacity and willingness to support and facilitate the children maintaining a relationship remains a question for further exploration. Despite the ensuing years of the children living with their father and spending time with their mother, X has not been happy and now in middle adolescence he is asserting his right to make decisions regarding his choices. X has been living with the mother since the end of May 2016.
- In the Playroom during brief observation Y and his father were talking and it seemed to be agreed that Y wanted to spend time with his father this coming weekend to celebrate both father’s day and for Y to attend the presentation of awards at his (hobby omitted) club. This was discussed with the mother who readily agreed to Y spending time with his father. When in the Playroom preparing to leave, Ms Isaac asked Y what he wanted to do and put forward the suggestion that he could come home on Saturday night and go back on Sunday. This appeared to confuse Y who looked worried and immediately agreed in a tiny voice that his mother should come and collect him on Saturday.
- After further discussion the parties agreed that the mother would take Y to McDonald’s in (omitted) on Saturday 9.00am and be collected at same place at 6.00pm on Sunday evening on 4 September 2016.
- In conclusion, under the heading ‘Future directions’ Ms C in her written memorandum stated that:
- On the basis of the history of this dispute, the continued allegations by X that his Father physically abuses and the current report to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding both X and Y, no future directions are possible.
- Ms C also stated in her memorandum that pending the outcome of the investigations by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Police of the allegations made by X, the children should remain with the Mother, that X is at an age where his views should be considered and that given his stage of development it is impossible to insist that he spend time with his Father.
- On 8 September 2016, a Response to the Section 67Z Notice of Child Abuse was received from the Department of Health and Human Services. Their report was a follows:
8 September 2016
Re: SECTION 67z Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence or Risk of Family Violence: Matter of DGC 400/2012 – ISAAC
I would like to acknowledge receipt of the Section 67Z in relation to the above mentioned matter, for X and Y, received by this Office on 29 August 2016.
Please be advised that the Department of Human Services Child Protection have provided a response to a previous Section 69ZW request, dated 23 December 2014.
The current Notice of Risk and Affidavit obtained by both
Ms Isaac (Mother) and Mr Isaac (Father) have been assessed and there appears to be no new information to suggest that the children are at significant risk of harm in the care of either parent, therefore the Department of Human Services will not be taking any further action at this time.
There have been a total of three Child Protection notifications received to The Department of Health and Human Services post 67W (sic) response dated 23 December 2014.
30/05/2016 – 15/06/2016 Intake and Assessment
A report was received due to concerns that X has been allegedly physically harmed and verbally abused by Mr Isaac. This incident resulted in X self-placing at Ms Isaac home with the wish to remain in Ms Isaac’s care. It is known to Child Protection that this incident is currently being investigated by Victoria Police. Child Protection closed the matter at intake and assessment with no concerns for X in Ms Isaac’s care.
22/06/2016 – 5/07/2016 Intake and Assessment
A report was received raising concerns around Mr Isaac breaching both the Intervention Order and the Family Law Court Orders pertaining to Family Violence behaviours displayed by Mr Isaac towards both X and Y and Ms Isaac. The details provided allege controlling and manipulative behaviours, medical neglect, physical and psychological abuse. The details in this report are similar to previous report dated 30 May 2016. Child Protection closed this matter, with the knowledge that the living arrangements for X in Ms Isaac’s care are directly against the current FLC orders. However X was assessed as not being at significant risk of harm in Ms Isaac’s care, similarly Y residing in
Mr Isaac’s care also raised no immediate safety concerns.
21/08/2016 – 24/08/2016 Intake and Assessment
A report was received due to concerns that Y had run away from Mr Isaac’s care to reside with Ms Isaac due to concerns that Y was being verbally, emotionally and physically abused by Mr Isaac. It is believed Y has since been in the care of Ms Isaac along with older sibling X. Ongoing concerns have been raised in relation to welfare matters arising for Ms Isaac in being able to provide basic care for both X and Y, whilst continued custody and Family Law Court matters were raised. Child protection has no immediate safety concerns for X and Y in the care of either Mr Isaac or Ms Isaac. Y and X were not assessed as at immediate risk of harm and the matter closed at intake and assessment phase.
Current report: 29th August 2016
The current report outlines concerns for the children, X 15 years old and Y 10 years old in the care of Mr Isaac. Concerns raised to Child Protection allege that both X and Y been subject to physical abuse, emotion and psychological harm by Mr Isaac. Similarly counter allegations have been raised that both X and Y are at risk of psychological harm in the care of Ms Isaac (sic). There is no new information to suggest that further protective intervention is required and no significant or immediate safety concerns rose for either parent or their ability to care for both children.
It is noted that X and Y are of an age and stage whereby they are able to verbally express their wishes in their living situation.
Given the matter is currently before the Federal Circuit Court, should the Court wish (sic). An 11F Family report can be made and further liaison can occur with the Child Protection Family Law Court Liaison. The matter remained at Child Protection Intake and Assessment Phase and closed on or around the 8th September 2016.
- When giving her viva voce evidence, the response of the Department of Health and Human Services was explained to Ms C. She was therefore asked whether she was now in a position to make any recommendations to the Court about the future living arrangements for X and Y.
- It was Ms C’s evidence as follows:
Originally I had two possible future directions. One is to return both children and to wait and see whether X would in fact leave again and the other is to return Y and for Y to spend time with his Mother in a supervised contact centre for a period of between three to six months. The reason for that, your Honour, was because it seems clear that it is very difficult for Ms Isaac to support the children having a relationship with their Father. If X wanted to spend time with his brother that it occurs at the Father’s home or at the supervised contact centre.
- Ms C described the incident between X and the Father as a typical adolescent argument about school and other issues and noted that with an adolescent boy, matters quickly escalate going from zero to a hundred in less than thirty seconds.
- Ms C expressed concern that an issue of discipline between the Father and a fifteen year old adolescent boy had been used by the Mother as the basis to empower X to defy his Father and to return to her care.
- Ms C expressed real concerns about how Y arrived at the Mother’s place from the Father’s home and posited the only rational explanation was he did so with direct assistance from the Mother and possibly X.
- Ms C was also very concerned that the Mother did not contact the Father to advise him that Y was with her and to therefore appropriately relieve the Father of what would understandably have been his genuine panic when Y disappeared.
- Counsel for the Father asked Ms C whether it was worth a chance to give X, despite his age and expressed wish to live with the Mother, the opportunity to live with Y and his Father and see whether he would comply with such an order without the possibility of the Mother, for a period of time, undermining the Father’s authority.
- It was Ms C’s response that her original future direction was for this to happen although she acknowledged that she is cognisant of X’s age and developmental state and the fact that he has already voted with his feet.
- Ms C noted that X is also very protective of his brother. Ms C suggested that it may be that despite his express wish that he wants to live with his Mother and brother, if orders were made that Y remain with the Father, X would do so in the belief that he needs to protect his brother.
- During the Mother’s cross examination of Ms C it was revealed that unbeknown to Ms C, both the Mother and X had recorded their interviews with her using their mobile phones.
- When the inappropriateness and possible illegality of that behaviour was put to the Mother, she explained that she had recorded the interview to ensure that the truth of what had been said by the report writer was able to be verified by her and put before the Court.
- When asked whether she had told or encouraged X to record his interview with the report writer, the Mother adamantly denied that she had told X to do so and that it had been his idea.
- The Mother asked Ms C why she had not included in her list of risks to the children as set out in her memorandum her complaint that the Father engaged in illegal activities with X and Y allowing Y to hold a rifle and X to drive behind the wheel and to smoke marijuana.
- Ms C confirmed that the Mother had raised these allegations with her but that given they were not contained in any of her affidavit material and were unable to be verified, she had not included them in her memorandum.
- Ms C agreed that the Mother had put to her in interview her proposal that X and Y live with her and spend regular time with the Father. The Mother asked Ms C to confirm her response to the Mother’s proposal in their discussions and why she did not include in her memorandum the Mother’s proposals in this regard.
- It was Ms C’s evidence that in response to the Mother’s suggestion to her she would allow regular time between X, Y and the Father, she had indicated to the Mother that historically the Mother would make proposals for X and Y to spend time with the Father and would then not follow through in ensuring that those proposals took place and as such she had concerns about the Mother’s capacity to facilitate a relationship with the children and their Father.
- The Mother challenged Ms C’s neutrality and suggested that she had already made up her mind in relation to this matter prior to the interview taking place on the basis of all the material she had read relating to the previous proceedings before this Court.
- Ms C’s response was as follows:
Part of my training in my role here at the Court is to provide their Honours with information that is not biased and is presented from both parties from the childrens perspectives. But primarily my role is to focus on the children and what is going to be their best interests and to convey that as logically and intelligently as I can to the Court.
- The Mother asked Ms C why she believed it was in the best interests of the children to be in the Father’s care and to not spend any time with her for a period of six months in circumstances where she has not abused the children, there has been lots of false allegations against her and where there are serious allegations made of the Father physically and verbally abusing X and Y and exposing them to the illegal activities she alleges the Father encourages X and Y to engage in.
- Ms C’s response was as follows:
I have made that future direction to Her Honour because, after interviewing and meeting the children, the Father and yourself, I believe that it would be – it is very difficult for you to facilitate a relationship and that the children have been living with their Father and he has provided for them and they have had time with you, regular time as I understand it, in that time. The Orders of 2013 state the children should live with their dad and it appears to me from my interviews and assessment that nothing has really altered in the two years since those orders were made. It is more of the same. I think if the time is supervised, then Y will be safe. It will be a structured environment and he will not have to emotionally worry about whether he is doing the right thing.
- This is an extremely sad matter which has a longstanding history of litigation through the Court system.
- It is submitted on behalf of the Father that the Mother has established a pattern of making false or exaggerated claims of abuse by the Father against the Mother, X and Y and of then coercing X, in particular, to make false allegations to the police and to the Department of Health and Human Services, all in the endeavour to undermine X and Y’s relationship with the Father and to have X and Y live with her.
- It is submitted on behalf of the Father that the most recent events that gave rise to the current application before the Court is yet another chapter in the ongoing litany of false allegations made by the Mother. It is argued the Mother has once again encouraged and facilitated X making false allegations against the Father to the Police and has coerced and facilitated X and then Y in moving from the Father’s care.
- It is submitted on behalf of the Father that the Mother’s allegations against the Father were the subject of a seven day final hearing before Judge O’Sullivan in 2013. At the conclusion of that hearing His Honour was satisfied that the Father had not in any way subjected X or Y to abuse and that it was the Mother who was at risk of harm to the children because of her ongoing psychological and emotional abuse arising from her continued allegations against the Father to which she made X and Y a party.
- Further allegations were raised by the Mother within six months of His Honour’s decision and those allegations were dealt with both in the Children’s Court and again in the Federal Circuit Court. They too were found to be baseless and as such X and Y remained in the Father’s care.
- There is no doubt in my mind that on the evening of 26 May 2016 the Father and X got into a heated argument. X is a fifteen year old adolescent male who had been misbehaving at school to the extent that the school had found it necessary to contact the Father.
- When the Father sought to raise this issue with X he became defensive, accused the Father of not supporting him and as Ms C noted the situation escalated from zero to a hundred in thirty seconds. X contacted his Mother who, rather than saying “sort it out with your Father son”, drove to the Father’s home picked X up and took advantage of this situation to remove X from the Father’s home and to continue to undermine the relationship between X and the Father.
- Some three months later Y ran away from the Father’s home on the pretence that the Father had tapped him on the head with a spoon when he was rude to his step-sister. There is little doubt that the Mother and possibly X were complicit in this action and I am satisfied that the Mother, as she did with X picked Y up from within the vicinity of the Father’s home.
- The Mother is adamant that the Father physically, emotionally and psychologically abuses X and Y and that the Courts have ignored all the evidence that she has previously placed before them as to this abuse and therefore the decisions to leave X and Y with the Father were wrong.
- The Mother challenges the evidence of the experts that were before Judge O’Sullivan in 2013 and was so mistrustful of the process that she illegally recorded her interview with Ms C and, I am satisfied, encouraged X to do the same.
- In the closing submissions made by the Father’s Counsel he summarised this behaviour of the Mother in encouraging X to tape his interview with Ms C as being illegal, totally improper, involving the child in the litigation, an abuse of the child and not in the best interests to be so involved.
- I agree with the submissions of the Father’s Counsel in this regard. It is of concern that the Mother could see nothing wrong in X being encouraged to record his interview with Ms C or that in so doing she was inappropriately involving him in the proceedings, encouraging him to undertake an illegal activity and was continuing to embroil him in her ongoing campaign against the Father.
- What was also of concern was the allegations the Mother raised for the first time with Ms C and again in the Courtroom on 9 September 2016 when she alleged that the Father was engaging in illegal activities such as allowing Y to hold a gun, X to drive a car and allowing and encouraging X to use Marijuana. None of these allegations were contained in the Mother’s voluminous affidavit material that was filed in these proceedings nor are they allegations that X has ever raised with any of the external agencies to which he has been taken by the Mother or with the report writer.
- It is the recommendation of Ms C, strongly supported by the Father, that the only way the Mother’s ongoing pattern of behaviour can be disrupted and X and Y be afforded an opportunity to have a proper relationship with the Father without it being undermined by the Mother is for X and Y to return to the Father’s care and for there to be a period of six months of no time followed by a time of supervised time only to break the cycle.
- It is the submission of the Father that unsupervised time should only recommence when the Mother provides proof of genuinely engaging in therapeutic psychiatric treatment so that she is able to develop insight into the inappropriateness of her ongoing campaign to undermine the relationship between X, Y and the Father.
- There is no doubt in my mind that the Mother believes the Father abuses X and Y. She is unable to see that the altercation between X and his Father on 26 May 2016 was not out of the ordinary and was the response of an adolescent boy to being confronted by his Father for inappropriate behaviour at his school.
- It is of interest that the one thing that the Mother did say that resonated with me is that X and the Father are quite loud. I imagine there are times when they do butt heads. Parenting an adolescent male can be challenging but the Mother would appear to lack insight into this reality and rather than encouraging X to work through things with his Father, takes advantage of that reality to continue her campaign to undermine the father-son relationship.
- In light of the findings made by Judge O’Sullivan and the Children’s Court and the recommendations of Ms C, I am of the view that the only way forward in this matter is to make Orders in the terms recommended by Ms C which is to have X and Y immediately return to the Father’s case and for there to be application by both parties to enrol at Berry Street in (omitted) for supervised time to take place for a period of six months.
- Given the delays at the contact centre at this time the practicality of this Order is that there will be a period of “no time” between X, Y and the Mother before that supervised time takes place which will allow things to settle down in the Father’s household.
- In order for X and Y to have some respite from the highly conflicted relationship in which they have found themselves since their parents separation, it is also apparent there needs to be a prohibition on any form of electronic communication between themselves and the Mother until such time as unsupervised time starts. Orders will be made accordingly.
- It will also be necessary that the Mother be restrained from attending at either boys’ schools when X and Y are present or their extra-curricular activities. Orders will be made in those terms together with permission for the Father to provide a copy of these Orders to the principals of Y and X’s schools and the managers of their sporting teams.
- In relation to the Mother’s and X’s recordings of their interviews with Ms C, Orders will be made requiring the Mother to erase all such recordings and prohibiting her from copying them or making copies of same available to any other persons or on social media.
- It is somewhat of an understatement to say that X in particular is going to be very unhappy with this order. I accept that he would prefer to live with his Mother.
- In these circumstances a senior Family Consultant of the Federal Circuit Court will be requested to explain these Orders to X and Y and to outline the rationale behind them.
- Given that X is now fifteen and a half and has already voted once with his feet, it is accepted that he may well refuse to comply with these Orders. The Father is realistic enough to recognise this as was apparent from the submissions made by his Counsel on his behalf.
- It is important, however, that X be given every opportunity to understand the Orders and every opportunity to be encouraged to comply with them.
- In the event that X refuses to comply with the Orders, it will be important for he and Y to see each other. It is not my intention to make specific orders in relation to how that time is to take place other than to set out that any time X spends with Y will either take place at the contact centre with the Mother or on the basis that X spends time with Y at the Father’s home.
- Whilst the Father proposes there to be no time between the Mother, X and Y until she undertakes therapeutic psychiatric treatment, I will not make an Order in those terms. The Mother does not accept it is necessary, will not do it and if she did it would have little effect given she is not committed to it. Rather it is hoped a twelve month “moratorium” will enable the relationship between X and Y and the Father to become sufficiently settled so that it cannot be undermined by the Mother when unsupervised time commences.
- Finally, whatever may have been the reality behind the altercation between X and the Father on 26 May 2016, it is very clear that there are problems in their relationship. As was noted, parenting adolescent boys is not easy. X already is and Y will be an adolescent before too long. In this case the Father will clearly benefit from enrolling and completing a Parenting Adolescents Program and orders will be made for him to do so.
- The Mother in this case is again seeking to ventilate parenting matters. Other than the altercation on 26 May 2016 she raised many, if not most, of the allegations made by her that have been dealt with by Judge O’Sullivan in his decision of 23 June 2013 and 26 June 2015.
- As this decision has addressed the 26 May 2016 incident I do not intent to allow this question of X and Y’s living arrangement to be further litigated as to do so cannot be seen to be in any way in the best interests of X and Y.
- The Mother’s Contravention Application filed 29 August 2016 is, with respect, misguided and is not in the appropriate form.
- Accordingly, the Mother’s Initiating Applications and Contravention Applications and the Father’s Application in a Case are dismissed and this matter removed from the list of pending cases.