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Family Law

Airport watch list administrative failure causes alarm

By August 15, 2017No Comments

By Gianna Huesch

A young child has been placed on the airport watch list (no-fly list) by an ex-husband serving a prison sentence for family violence, including towards the child, in what is regarded as a “dangerous loophole”.

The man was jailed for four months for family violence after breaking his ex-wife’s ribs and assaulting his daughter, in a scenario of abuse that went on for a decade.  Despite this, he was able to control and prevent the mother’s movement by applying to prevent the daughter travelling internationally from jail.  No checks were made of his criminal record and he did not declare on the form that he was convicted of attacking his child.  

In this case, the ex-wife has a temporary reprieve from the fact that “police laid new charges against him for stalking (her). He tried to get bail but prosecutors won”. She will also attempt to have the no-fly order overturned at a hearing later this month, but at a cost of “tens of thousands”, while her ex-husband has been granted Legal Aid.

Although the watchlist loophole has been discovered, it is proving difficult to address because “no government body is accepting responsibility for the handling of airport watch lists”:

“The Australian Federal Police says it polices them but approving them is a job for the courts. The court system says it’s a matter for the department of Attorney-General George Brandis, but the department disputes that, handballing it back to the AFP.”

Interim no-fly orders are “always automatically issued without any background checks or a court hearing”. This abundance of caution is surely a good thing in many cases to help stop international child abductions. But here we have a situation highlighting the fact that urgent checks need to be made to prevent abusers essentially continuing their abuse from behind bars.


Do you need assistance with a family law matter? Please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.

Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance.


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