The Age: Legal Concerns About The Untested Aspects Of The Law

From XFamily - Children of God

Legal Concerns About The Untested Aspects Of The Law

The Age/1992-05-18

By Elisabeth Lopez

The legal authorities invoked by Community Services Victoria to gain custody of the 56 children in the former Children of God sect over the weekend were largely untested, a family law specialist said last night.

Mr Barry Berger, a partner in the firm Home, Wilkinson and Lowry, said the Children and Young Persons Act, 1989, was convoluted. It was two years old, but not all the sections came into effect at the same time.

"Not much has been written about it in the sense of judgments. All we know is what it says, and we have all got certain interpretations." Under section 63 (subsection C), a child in need of protection is defined as one who has suffered (or is likely to suffer) significant harm as a result of physical injury that its parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, it from.

Under subsection F, a child may be taken into care if its health has been, or is likely to be significantly harmed, and the parents have not arranged or are unlikely to arrange remedial care.

Section 69 outlines the procedures under which a protective intervener may take a child into custody. Mr Berger said the term "significant harm" was broad, and could include physical development, health, injury, or basic neglect.

Mr Berger said his knowledge of the case was based on media reports, and he did not have enough information to determine if CSV's actions were "right or not right".