My son was taken in by the classic immigration scam - a one-night stand, pregnancy, false violence accusations and bingo, his child’s mother gained permanent residency.
My son had a one-time sexual encounter with an Asian woman who, unbeknown to him, was seeking Australian residency. He immediately regretted his actions. She was so wrong for him and he back-pedalled on continuing a relationship.
The nightmare started when, not long after, the woman announced she was pregnant. My son said he could not commit to the mother-to-be but would be completely committed to his child.
The baby arrived, a healthy girl. From then on, she ‘gaslighted’ and manipulated my son. He was unable to do anything which did not elicit criticism, sarcasm and denigration. He wanted to co-parent and would have done everything possible, but she would not agree. Not long after the mother fabricated a story that she was afraid my son was going to kidnap the baby.
One day at her home, she and some of her friends screamed at, and verbally and emotionally attacked my son, taking the baby out of his arms. He left the home and immediately called me to say what had happened. He was sobbing and distraught that he may not be able to see the baby again. He called the police to get advice and they said they couldn’t do anything, but he could take out a domestic violence order which he didn’t do, as this was all very unfamiliar territory to him.
The mother then waited for quite some time during which time he was allowed to see his daughter at her home. But then she went to the police and took out a domestic violence order, based on a lie, collaborated by friends from her community, that he was violent and she was afraid of him. He lost contact with his child for a few months, until the system finally organised him supervised contact at a centre. The contact centre person was amazed he was there, telling him honestly he had no need for supervision – he was a great and safe dad.
The day of the hearing of her application for a domestic violence order arrived. His solicitor failed him by being late to court, leaving no time to brief my son on court protocol. The barrister for the accuser played games and submitted an affidavit that morning, so that no one had the chance to read it and formulate a proper response. It contained new information and accusations. The magistrate greeted the mother and her friends from her community with a smile, but did not even look at my son. (It appeared to me that he was regarded as guilty even before the evidence was given).
The mother was funded by legal aid. Her lawyer sneered at and twisted anything my son said. My son’s lawyer did a dreadful job. He failed to speak up for him, ignored him completely and did not respond to his obvious distress.
My ex-husband and I were in court to support our son. We were appalled. I saw him just give up as he was not given the least opportunity to tell his side of the situation. He had hoped for ‘his day in court’, but no – no one cared. The order was granted. Any semblance of getting fairness had been vanishingly small under these circumstances.
That day alone cost us $5,000 for the privilege of my son being devastated. I was so frantic with worry about my son at this point, realising that he was going to be severely negatively affected by the accusers and system, that I wrote to the state attorney-general complaining about the process in the Court. I also contacted Immigration as I had started to suspect a scam to be going on. I had seen stories about this and had a friend who was scammed by a Russian woman in a similar way, using accusations of violence to get residency. I didn’t hear back from Immigration of course, and I believe that by the time I started to recognise all this was happening, it was too late. The mother had been granted permanent residency on the basis of the Domestic Violence Order being granted in the Magistrates Court.
I now don’t believe my son was the victim of an organised scam from the start, but rather that he was targeted by the mother who had learned or been given immigration law knowledge she could leverage. She then targeted my son as a potential Australian husband so she could secure residency in Australia. She had knowledge of this possibility. The pregnancy was deliberate.
I believe the scam started with the taking out of the Domestic Violence Order. The mother was advised by the members of her community about what steps to take to gain residency status even if it meant cutting my son out of his child’s life.
At this time, I spoke with a colleague who had been on a placement in the mother’s country of origin. He confirmed that in that community, fathers have more rights than mothers and that ganging up on the men is a way the females control situations where they feel vulnerable. I believe that exactly this scenario was set up in the mother’s home and was used as the basis for the Domestic Violence Order.
My son then initiated Family Court proceedings to get access to his daughter. He was so anxious and desperate that he wanted to run away from it all but he wanted a relationship with his own little girl and to protect her.
The mother portrayed herself as a helpless refugee initially and did not prepare for the Family Court. Fortunately, the Family Court judge did not fall for this, but still allowed her additional time to prepare. I was disappointed that she had been allowed this much leeway, as her behaviour was a ploy, when we had worked hard to undertake all the correct processes.
Since then my son has been through several stages in the process of gaining more and more access to his daughter. Each has cost him emotionally and financially. He now has his daughter three nights one week, and one night the following week – the standard formula – but he’s trying to have his daughter 50% of the time. Each stage has required that he initiates mediation, which in his experience is a waste of time and has no real power to achieve anything if there is a narcissistic party. He has experienced being bullied by the mediator to accept arrangements that don’t appear in the best interests of his child but are convenient to the other parent – just simply to get the mediation over with.
Also, Family Court solicitors know what the system will allow, so they engage in what they call ‘managing expectations’ for their clients, in other words talking them away from anything except what they know the system will allow i.e. fathers will not get 50-50 time with their children because the system prefers a formula style of calculating time with the non-custodial parent, so that Centrelink payments are not interrupted for the custodial parent.
My son has paid thousands of dollars to try to see and raise his daughter. The injustice of this leaves me speechless. He has paid thousands of dollars to solicitors who have either failed to help altogether, or who have been so aware of the bias in the system that they do not even try for what is in the best interests of the child concerned i.e. an equal relationship with the loving father. They get paid no matter what the outcome is, so there is no accountability. My granddaughter is old enough now to be complaining about the small amount of time she spends with her father, as they are very bonded and obviously love each other.
At this point in his life my son has lost 8 years of career development. His tertiary qualifications are almost worthless, as he has gained no experience in his chosen field. He is working in a dead-end job and is depressed and anxious. He applies for new jobs but must immediately flag the need for carer’s leave for school pick ups and drop offs on the days the child is with him. He is exhausted, in virtual poverty and deeply embarrassed about his life, while at the same time he will not seek help as he has proven that ‘anything he says or does will be taken down and used against him’. He is terrified, even professionally, of interacting with the police – say to gain a criminal record check for job applications – due to the system’s propensity to believe accusations from mothers without investigation, and what that has cost him already. He has lost contact with most of his friends, has no money or time to socialise, and has become unfit due to the emotional pain he has experienced.
His family, mostly me, has held him up. We are not well-off, and I’m on the verge of retirement, and it is difficult for me now to be financing this situation. I help financially as much as possible, and we support him emotionally, as I refuse to allow my precious grown-up child to be a statistic in what I now regard as an evil, biased, de-personalising, bullying, denigrating and toxic system.
My son is suffering from anxiety, possibly PTSD, and does not have the time, energy or confidence to be involved in efforts to help others. He will never marry or have another child, as he knows it would kill him to go through this again, and he has lost any faith at all in the system’s intention or appetite to protect him equally as a male, Australian citizen and taxpayer. He feels completely abandoned to political correctness, ‘thrown under the bus’, so to speak, in favour of aspiring ‘non-residents’ who benefit from being coached, even by government officials and certainly their own ethnic communities, on how to get permanent residency.
It almost killed me watching my son go through this ordeal – a good, intelligent, well-educated man from a loving family full of trustworthy males. I support my son in every way I can, to ensure he doesn’t become a statistic.
I will never again support efforts to elevate women’s matters to be more visible and important than men’s. I now use my anger, by joining groups, writing to inquiries, entering into conversations on social media, doing everything I can to ensure injustice is overturned.
Read more stories from mothers of sons who have faced injustice here