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Uplifts ordered by Family Court traumatise children

Uplifts ordered by Family Court traumatise children
Family Court uplift orders hurt hundreds of children each year
Royal Commission of Inquiry urgently needed to uncover what is going in the Family Court

Backbone Collective launched 5 months ago to give women who have experienced violence and abuse a safe way to say how the system responded to them and their children when they reached out for help. There are currently nearly 1000 women members and over 100 supporters of the independent unfunded organisation.
Co founder Deborah Mackenzie says ‘we saw a need to set up an organisation to give women a safe way to say how the system works and how it could work better. Since our launch hundreds of New Zealand women have contacted us and have told us that the Family Court does not respond safely to women and children when they experience violence and abuse and reach out for help.”

Deborah explains “The uplifts shown on the Newsroom report this morning are harrowing and unfortunately they are all too common. We have been contacted by a number of women whose children have been forcibly taken from them by the New Zealand Police and/or Oranga Tamariki (formerly CYFS) at the order of the Family Court. These children were not in danger at the time; there was no need to take them in such a traumatic way or indeed at all. The uplifts are being used by the Family Court to enforce parenting orders. It’s kind of like a school yard scene where two children (Tom and Sally) share a toy). Sally doesn’t want to play with Tom anymore. Then Tom decides he wants the toy all to himself. He goes to the biggest school yard bully and asks them to go take the toy off Sally with force if necessary and give it to him. The toy gets broken in the exchange – but all that matters to Tom and the bully is that Tom has the toy all to himself.

Backbone ran a survey on the Family Court recently and nearly 500 women who had been through the Family Court took part. Thirty five of these women told Backbone their children were taken from them by the Family Court – some of those women and children had experienced the uplift process.

Co Founder Ruth Herbert adds “We hear daily that the Family Court is not listening to children. We know of many children forced to spend time with an abusive father against their wishes. How frightening it must be to tell a trusted adult, like a Judge, that you are scared of your dad and you do not want to see him and then in the night police come and forcibly remove you from your home and give you to the person who abuses you? Can you imagine the terrible deep fear these children must feel? How can they ever trust people in authority again?”

Deborah states “It is time for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Family Court – New Zealanders really need to demand that a high level independent investigation is undertaken to determine the extent of these barbaric, unsafe and harmful practices - to lift up the stones and see what lies beneath.

Before today who could have imagined a scene like the video released by Newsroom? Backbone members can imagine it – many of them have been threatened by the Family Court that their children will be removed and some have experienced it first hand.

Backbone has heard about so many terrible practices in the Family Court, there is plenty of evidence available, we just need the government to have the strength to lift those stones – no one else can do it.”

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