Desperate Dad scales Sydney Harbour Bridge

by Peter Magee on May 13, 2011

Peter Magee

Frustration would have been the emotion affecting many commuters this morning.  Many Sydney-siders waited in a horrendous traffic jam as one man in the midst of a family law dispute, abseiled down the Sydney Harbour Bridge, placing banners in protest of what he claims to be “systematic failures” which he alleges have caused unacceptable delays to him spending any time with his children.

It is my view that, although this is an extreme measure, his action exemplifies common practical difficulties parents experience during family law proceedings.  Indeed, the man stated: “There is a major failure in the fact that there is no one looking after our kids when parents separate and divorce…I’ve been pushed and pushed. I’m not just doing this for me; I’m doing this for my kids.”

He identifies a common difficulty that many fathers involved in family law proceedings face which is “parental alienation syndrome”. Parental alienation syndrome can be described as strategic manipulation of a child by one parent with the purpose of destroying that child’s relationship with the other parent.  One of the many common signs of parental alienation syndrome is lack of independent thinking from the child imitating the alienator’s thoughts and feelings. This results in the child being made to feel guilty for any love shown towards the alienated parent.

Often the primary motive of the alienating parent is to gain leverage in the Family Law Courts.  Although parental alienation is increasing in recognition by the Australia Family Courts, a practical implication of parental alienation is that the alienated parent’s relationship with their child is already destroyed by the time the proceedings are heard by the Court and in some cases are beyond repair.

Another  practical difficulty this father may have faced is that while he may have been proactive in initiating proceedings in an attempt to spend time with his children, Court delays are lengthy at the moment. Often so much time passes between the proceedings being initiated and being listed for the court to hear them that in the meantime, the parent’s relationship with their children deteriorates   This difficulty was illustrated in the man’s response to his actions when he stated,  “If I have to stuff four million people around for one morning and that gets my kids and other kids help one day sooner [then] I have achieved my goal.”

Unfortunately, this morning’s conduct was just one example of the frustration that too many parents face during family law proceedings.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Children from broken home May 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm

You have no idea the damage it does to children. Even as Adults The torcher of step parents or defacto that are all for there own children after there natural parent death and the law supports it . I have not meet a step parent or defacto that doesn’t try to screw the arse out of the natural children. Shame on the family law court shamed to be and aussie. Look after these children and adult of seperated parents stop screwing there heads. Less on disability pension. Private and confidential.

Michael Wood May 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I agree Kimberly. I have been battling for time with my children over the past eight years and have only just recently given up. The courts are just unable to enforce visitations and do not punish parent’s found to have contravened the orders. The mother of my two beautiful daughters is very manipulative and decieving and has alienated them from not only their father but their granparents, auntie’s, uncle’s niece.s and nephew’s. Their mother was adopted out at birth and encourages my children to go to underage disco’s, frequent internet social pages and have boyfriends. My 13 year old stpped seeing me nearly a year ago without any explanation and I have not seen my 11 year old for almost three months. My ex does not fear the court system and I don’t blame her – It’s weak. The children need to be protected. I get the sense that people have no idea the stresses a situation like this causes the alienated parent and children.

david Minchin May 19, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I was in Sydney and saw this happen, but flew out and missed the reasons. If I had realized I would have gone down to support that man 100% as I have also experienced nearly 3 years of such torment and ostracism at the hands of an ex wife doing exactly the same to my now adult daughter, and using my now 17 year old autistic son as a pawn to increase her claim to more $ while delaying a property settlement and using so-called Child Support Aust. (Ha!) to harrass me for money I cannot get access to. ( I am also suffering medical complications from a car accident and have had to postpone two operations in this time due to the delayed settlement and stress. I was also unable to work more than part-time and presently unemployed) Oh, I forgot to mention that Relationships Australia brokered a shared access to our then 14 year old son, which she promptly broke…..I have had to pay thousands of dollars to assert my integrity as a father (only possible due to the financial support of my 86 year old ex war veteran father)….money that should have been spent on my children. Nearly 16,000 dollars I have spent on my sons musical and cognitive life skills education has also been disputed by my ex wife, so CSA (who claim they have no discretion to do so) cannot include this towards payments. My argument is that everyone, including my ex wife have been failed by a system(s) that allow such delays, procrastination and mischief. the damage to the nation is visible daily in news stories. Even I, a reasonably articulate man, have been largely silenced; vilified and abused by ignorant public servants, impotent agents of government agencies and a media blind to the real tragedy unfolding when one parent is treated as a second class parent….in my case, a “zero percent father” according to CSA!! How come not one psychologist or self-regulating gov’t agent hasn’t realized the sickness of this type of stereo-typing and abusive tagging? I’m exhausted. Feel free to contact me fellow fathers….anyone?

Amanda June 6, 2011 at 4:03 am

This is a very nice thing to consider but this new condition that is described as “parental alienation syndrome” is just a new tool for the emtionally abusive partner to continue their abusive behaviour and all with the permission of the courts. I am actually tired of hearing about parents rights. What about a child’s right to have an emotionally happy healthy envirnonment in which to exist without having to be responsible for the emotional stability of an abuser. Much of domestic violence goes far beyond physical abuse. It is the mental and emotional control dealt out by an abuser that makes life debilitating. We should be giving more consideration to defining the fact that NPD or Narcicistic Personality Disorder is at the heart of most domestic violence and emotional abuse. NPD is a disorder that evolves through poor abusive parental relations which are then passed onto the next generation of children and so the cycle of NPD continues. The statistical facts state that NPD has a higher incidence in men than women and supports the fact that men are more likely to be abusers in a marriage than women are. The courts should actually start paying attention to what is emotionally best for our children and stop giving into the demands of ‘parental rights’. How many more women and children will die before the courts get it right. Make adults accountable for their actions. If abuser’s end up alone and single….isn’t this what they deserve. When does the consequence of abusive behaviour ever come into play. It is becoming harder and harder for women to prove domestic violence and we are seeing the reults of this in the news everyday. Just make abusers accountable for their actions and this problem of “parental alienation syndrome’ will disappear. Abuser’s do not deserve access to their children. How else will this cycle of emotional abuse ever stop ????????? As for Harbor Bridge Mick, before we start taking sides and using his protest as fuel for a serious issue, let’s consider the facts of his story and find out what lies behind the curtain of opinion. Propaganda and opinion mask the facts no matter which way you slice it. I AGREE …. WHAT ABOUT OUR KIDS. WHAT ABOUT THEIR LIFE FREE FROM DEBILITATING EMOTIONAL ABUSE.

Lyle July 29, 2011 at 10:58 am

This is just true. It is Government enforced child removal, from their fathers.

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