Judge refuses to grant interim care order – 2018vol2#31

A judge in a rural town refused to grant an interim care order and adjourned the application pending an amended safety plan.

The CFA solicitor said that there was great concern for the welfare of seven children following a violent incident in the family home. The seven children lived there, two of whom had a different father. There was a safety plan in place which required the father of the younger children, who was living with the children, to move out if he drank. There had been between eight and ten violent scenes since the summer. Four days earlier, when the father was out of the family home, he got drunk and called to the house where there was a very violent scene.

“I’m very familiar with this case,” the judge said. “There have been various applications to court.”

The social worker said that the problem was the lack of consistency for the children. It was a situation of complete chaos. He has spoken to the father about seeking treatment in a residential addiction centre, but the father did not accept he needed to.

The judge said that the father of the two older children was “ducking and diving” in relation to his responsibilities. All seven children were very attached to their mother and very worried about her and about her health.

“I attend the criminal courts,” the judge said. “I read the probation reports on young men accused of criminal damage or sexual assault and the first paragraph is that they were taken into care at a young age. It may solve the immediate problem, but then they become teenagers and they reach the age of 18 and where then? Do they go back to their birth family? You should explore every other possibility.”

The social worker said he heard what the judge was saying but from a social work perspective he worried about the harm the children were currently facing. He acknowledged the children were not the victims of domestic violence.

The father told the court the situation “sounds worse than it is.” He agreed there was a safety plan including the provision that if he was drinking he had to leave the house. “Did I use that as an excuse? Maybe.” He said he was also taking drugs for a mental health issue.

The judge said he would not make interim care orders and would adjourn the case for two weeks. He wanted to see an amended safety plan by then. He told the mother she had a part to play.