Having your child abducted is every parent’s worst nightmare. When the abductor is the other parent or another family member there is the additional turmoil of it not being considered a crime.
The frequency of parental abductions in Australia – over 650-a-year has led to the issue being highlighted this International Missing Children’s Day.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin will launch the global day in Sydney this Wednesday.
Support group Coalition of Parents of Abducted Children’s website refers to the emotional trauma and debilitating financial costs parents searching for their children face, stating,
“The parent has to act as the investigator, the parent has to act as the lawyer, the parent has to spend enormous amounts of money to gain access to information that might lead to the location of their child. And that information is information that is freely available to the Australian Federal Police but their hands are tied because they can’t act because it is not a criminal offence.”
There have been several high profile cases in recent times, such as the international case involving an Italian father, an Australian mother and their four daughters.
The mother defied an Italian court order, fleeing Italy to Mountain Creek, Australia with her daughters in tow. The children were extradited back to Italy and are now living with their father.
Media coverage of the case has brought the ugly tug of war that can ensue during warring parents’ custodial disputes into the public consciousness.
The day aims to raise awareness about children who are currently missing, or those who have returned and are dealing with the emotional fallout of their experience.
Commissioner Colvin called for help from the public. He said,
“The Australian Federal Police has now listed children who have been abducted by a parent in a dedicated ‘Family Court’ tab on the missingpersons.gov.au website. I strongly encourage everyone to visit the page and provide information anonymously to Crime Stoppers if you are aware of a child’s location”