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Family law inquiry to hear push for children to have more influence in custody cases

WARNING: The story contains content that may be distressing to some readers Key points: Few children currently give evidence in family court hearings about them Advocates are calling for amendments to the Family Law Act The changes would require children to be offered the chance to speak "Jane" is 24, but often wonders what it would be like to have had a childhood. Between the ages of four and 13 she lived with her father, a man she believed had more than 29 criminal convictions, including two for child sex offences. Her father had AIDS and from the age of seven she was his sole carer, dressing his lesions. "I didn't get much of a childhood," she said. "I felt...

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'We are failing some kids,' National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell says

Australia's first National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell is adamant more needs to be done to deal with children's mental health and anxiety issues. Ms Mitchell spoke to the Mercury on Thursday during a visit to the University of Wollongong's Early Start Discovery Space. While in town she also chaired the It's Our Place community initiative being piloted in Bellambi. The initiative aims to break the cycle of disadvantage and create happier, healthier, more sustainable communities. Her visit comes less than a week after she released the Children's Rights Report 2019. "I have to say that while most children live happy and healthy lives, there are many groups of kids who miss out and we are also I think failing in particular areas," Ms...

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ACT child protection laws keep lawyers in the dark about their clients

Lawyers representing foster children are being kept in the dark on decisions made about their client, according to Legal Aid. Legal Aid senior lawyer Sally Hiles said the lack of information provided to advocates by the territory's child protection agency caused frustrating delays to court proceedings, which created more stress for children.   Ms Hiles gave evidence on Wednesday to the ACT Legislative Assembly inquiry into information sharing in the territory's care and protection system. The probe was sparked by the government's wrongful removal of five Aboriginal children from their mother in 2013, a case described by some as being reminiscent of the Stolen Generation. The inquiry on Tuesday heard that carers were struggling to access critical medical information about their...

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‘Dad raped me repeatedly from age 6 and got me pregnant 3 times’ - WARNING: Graphic content

A woman who says her father repeatedly raped her from the age of six wants him prosecuted for killing their unborn child. Shannon Clifton, now 19, suffered horrendous sexual abuse and beatings at the hands of her paedophile father, who got her pregnant three times. Shane Clifton is already in jail for raping his daughter when she was aged between 10 and 14. She gave birth to another child by him when she was just 14 and now wants him to face further prosecution. Derbyshire Police said they had spoken to Shannon and were making “further inquiries”. Shannon, who has bravely waived her anonymity, says her father first raped her on their living room floor when she was just six....

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Xavier College grapples with historical sex abuse claims

Xavier College is grappling with the challenge of marking the death of a former principal who died suddenly in December after being named in relation to child sex abuse allegations on a controversial website run by old boys. The prestigious Catholic boys school in Kew, which counts former Labor leader Bill Shorten and former archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart among its alumni, is understood to be preparing an obituary for the former principal Philip Wallbridge, which will be circulated in the first newsletter of the year. Mr Wallbridge, who resigned as principal in 1993 and went on to run the AFL’s SportsReady program for more than a decade, died by suicide in the days before Christmas, at least 18 months...

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