The federal government has announced reforms designed to stop women who flee domestic violence from being deported back into unsafe situations after a First Nations woman pleaded for help to stop her daughter being returned to Europe under a decades-old international agreement.
One First Nations woman, who cannot be identified, recently lost a bid to have a case heard by the high court to stop her daughter being sent back to Europe. The woman was in a relationship with a man, became pregnant and was intending to give birth in Australia, but says he coerced her into visiting him.
She alleges domestic violence occurred and she fled the situation with her daughter at the first opportunity possible to return to Australia. The man is now applying for the child to be returned to him using The Hague abduction convention. She says the law is being used to force her and her First Nations daughter back into an unsafe situation.
Asked how she felt when she first found out about the convention, the woman told the Guardian “betrayal is the enduring emotion”.
“Betrayed that there are no warnings signs at international airports letting mothers know that behind government walls they have signed away our rights to return home, even if domestic violence, pandemics, and/or medical complications force you to give birth overseas.”
The woman fought the decision through the courts, but says the law instructs judges to ignore the best interest of the child. She recently lost a special leave application to the high court.
She sought an urgent response from the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus.
She describes the situation facing her daughter as a continuation of the stolen generations.
The new laws will not apply to her case though, as they are not retrospective.