Mother holds and comforts sad little boy.jpg

Anne and Lachlan*

Anne agreed to return with her child. When she returned she was taken into custody by the US federal police and held for several hours while they tried to contact her abuser to see what he wanted them to do with her. Her abuser had all the power. Australian judges had sent a vulnerable First Nations mother who had only just disclosed the trauma of her abuse to her family, to a country where her abuser was able to decide if she goes to federal prison for child abduction. This is the Hague Convention and this is #HerHagueStory.

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Anne* is an Australian First Nations mother, who had her son Lachlan*, in her early 40’s while living overseas. He was born in America, to a father who is a Mexican national. The abuse started soon after the child was born - emotional, psychological and financial. 

After two years of abuse, she returned to Brisbane with her sister and her mother who was having health issues. During their journey home to Australia, she broke down in tears and began to disclose details of the abusive relationship. Two years of suppressed pain and trauma began its slow and painful journey out. She shared how her husband had even hurt her precious baby, and told her sister that she was ‘too afraid to return’. 

She summoned the strength to stand up to her abuser and told him that she was not returning. Her abuser immediately commenced Hague Proceedings at no cost or detriment to himself. As with all Hague cases, the Australian government generously paid for the legal fees of the perpetrator to prosecute his victims, two First Nations Australians. 

#HerHagueStory is asking the Australian government to put legislation in place that ensures the money is returned to the Australian taxpayers, by the perpetrator, if abuse is proven during Hague Convention Proceedings. 

Lachlan’s photo and description were placed on an FBI child abduction website. Her abuser officially Hagued her in June and her hearing was only two months later in August. She hardly had time to process what was happening. 

The Australian court did not place any weight on her evidence of domestic abuse. The Australian court did not place any weight upon statutory law and the rights of a First Nations Child. The Australian judge ordered that the First Nations child be returned to the country of their abuser two weeks later. No consideration appeared to be given to the grandmother's health issues. 

Anne was refused Legal Aid but had a pro bono family law barrister represent her. She felt they were inexperienced and possibly even afraid of the judge. Seemingly the Central Authority lawyers had no compassion for her and treated her like a criminal and kidnapper. She was treated with disdain by the Central Authority and family court judge. 

“Hague Solicitors say that Hague mothers are viewed as Guilty before being proven innocent, instead of innocent before being proven guilty, by Australian Judges.” #HerHagueStory
 

As all loving mothers do, Anne agreed to return with her child. When she returned she was taken into custody by the US federal police and held for several hours while they tried to contact her abuser to see what he wanted them to do with her. Her abuser had all the power. Australian judges had sent a vulnerable First Nations mother who had only just disclosed the trauma of her abuse to her family, into a country where her abuser was able to decide if she goes to federal prison for child abduction. This is the Hague Convention.

She was eventually released with her child. However her abuser had received orders in her absence, giving him full legal and physical custody of her child. Anne had no money, home, job, or other resources in America. An American lawyer who met with her and her abuser sided with him and gaslit Anne, telling her, “maybe it was not as bad as she thought it was”. He was very sympathetic towards the abuser and said, “he didn’t seem like such a bad guy.” 

Anne was desperate to at least visit her infant son, so she attended mediation with her ex every single day for three months. He used this time to berate and abuse her. However, after three months, he met someone else and finally gave Anne written permission to leave with Lachlan. 

The father said, “he wouldn’t eat and wouldn’t stop crying for his mother”. He has never paid child support.

#HerHagueStory encourages the reader to ask, what type of man takes a baby from a mother, and lets him cry and not eat for three months before returning him? 

#HerHagueStory encourages the reader to question what was the Australian Judge thinking? Where was the court appointed Independent Children's Lawyer (ICL)? Clearly this child was old enough to say he wanted his mother, and his voice is meant to be amplified by the ICL. 

#Shout with #HerHagueStory. Call Mark Dreyfus, and say, #NotThisChild

*To protect the privacy of individuals, names have been changed.

Anne and Lachlan* #HerHagueStory
*To protect the privacy of individuals, names have been changed.