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Child removal

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HANSARD NO. 16 25 September 1979

Page 1526

CHILD REMOVAL (Question No. 4213)

MR LES JOHNSON asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 6 June 1979:

(1) Has the interdepartmental committee formed to investigate and recommend to the Government legislation or administrative changes needed to reduce the incidence of children being removed from Australia without the knowledge or against the wishes of the other parent concluded its

investigations and submitted its recommendations.

(2) . If so, what are its recommendations.

(3) What action does the Government propose to take pursuant to these recommendations. '

(4) In the event that the recommendations are not accepted, what other action does the Government propose to take.

MR VINER - The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Yes.

(2) , (3) and (4) The Government has considered the

report and recommendations of the interdepartmental committee. Media reports had suggested that hundreds of children may have been removed from Australia by one parent

without the consent of the other. The committee's report indicates that approximately 10 such cases come to the Government's notice each year. While the number of child

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removal cases appears not to be as high as media reports had suggested, the Government is concerned to make its

legislation and administrative procedures as effective as possible to minimise the problem.

Prevention of child removal is a complex‘matter

involving questions of jurisdiction, dual nationality, citizenship, freedom of travel and rights of the child.

The committee indicated that there is no panacea for the problem. However, the Government is hopeful that the

following legislative and administrative actions which are being or will be taken, which arise out of the committee's recommendations and which have been approved by the Government will both reduce the occurrence of the problem,

and assist in the recovery of children that have been

successfully removed from Australia:

Revision of sections 62 and 63 of the Migration Act 1958, which provide for offences in respect of the re­ moval and carriage from Australia of children in respect of whom custody or access orders have been made or are being

sought, to give them broader application, and relocation of the provisions of the Family Law Act 1975 where their existence should become more generally known;

Improving procedures for the entry of" details of some children on warning lists;

Officers of the Department of Immigration and

Ethnic Affairs, and Business and Consumer Affairs stepping up at departure points identification checks of children who are accompanied by only one parent;

Tightening parental consent requirements for the

issue of passports to children leaving Australia;

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Providing courts and legal practitioners with detailed information on available preventive measures and proposals for new measures in a form which could be

distributed to the public;

Approaches to courts to achieve better

communication of orders for delivery up of passports by applicants to police and foreign embassies and consulates in Australia;

Requesting . foreign diplomatic missions in

Australia to decline passport facilities in respect of children who they are informed or who they have reasonable cause to believe are the subject of Australian court orders for delivery up of passports;

Additional and further approaches to other

countries, especially New Zealand, to secure arrangements for the reciprocal enforcement of custody orders between Australia and those countries;

Continued participation by Australia in

discussions in the Hague Conference on Private International Law on a proposed international convention on the specific

problem of child removal;

Authorisation of the Attorney-General to grant financial assistance in deserving cases to assist parents to institute legal proceedings overseas for recovery of their children removed from Australia by the other parent;

Inclusion of the problem on the agenda in future discussions between Australia and New Zealand on travel arrangements between the two countries.

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