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Family Law

Airport Watch List: The devil’s in the detail: administrative failure causes alarm

By August 14, 2017No Comments

By Gianna Huesch

A young child has been placed on the airport watch list by an ex-husband serving a prison sentence for family violence, including towards the child, in what is described 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–perhaps her escape to family overseas–by applying to prevent the daughter traveling internationally from jail.  No checks were made of his criminal record and the application form didn’t require him “to declare 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 personal cost of “tens of thousands of dollars”, 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 a good thing in many cases to help stop international child abductions. But here we have a situation highlighting the fact that simple background checks should surely 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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