FLINT logo
Families Link International
Tel:0781 886 1724
home | issues | policies | family groups | courts | court reporters | research | law | contacts | donations | Useful Quotes |

Courts - Australia - Anti-father bias

Anti-Father Bias: The Abuses of Government

With Special Guest Sue Price Co-founder Men's Rights Agency More than 14,000 men have suicided since John Howard came to office.

Father's groups attribute at least half of these deaths to the brutal istreatment of fathers and their children at the hands of our family law and child support systems. The government has acknowledged there is no documentary evidence to contradict this claim.

Sue Price is one of the most courageous figures in the family law reform movement in Australia today, consistently speaking up on behalf of fathers, families and their children.

The bigotted and farcical nature of the travesty that passes for family law in this country and the bureaucracy that protects it was illustrated by the Family Law Pathways Group, which did not have a single fathers group represented on it. Yet instead of instituting a fullscale public inquiry or Royal Commission into the chaos of family law, the government is now using this fundamentally flawed report to justify yet further ridiculous amendments to the Family Law Act. Everything the government has done, from the introduction of the failed Federal Magistrates Service to the superannuation legislation, has done nothing but harm to fathers and their children. The government continues to ignore community concerns, and this destructive system just gets worse.

As Sue Price says, when the Family Law Pathways Group was first announced many eagerly hoped the government was finally listening. Instead, the membership of the panel was stacked with women's groups and beneficiaries of the system.

Forum members seemed to overly focus on the domestic violence issue, perpetuating the victim status of women. Since the 1980s the domestic violence industry has expanded at a remarkable rate, due in part to the bodgy statistics produced as a result of self-advocacy research projects. Unfortunately, people are being encouraged to complain about the most minor of slights and even encouraged into making false allegations. Many DV applications are made purely to gain the upperhand in forthcoming Family Court hearings.

The domestic violence industry that promotes "women as victims of male patriarchy" is playing a significant role in separating families, Price says. Their protocol insists on separation of the parties, immediately, which prevents any opportunity to reconcile or even discuss in a civilised manner an impending separation. Being falsely accused of domestic violence as happens in many cases is unlikely to endear the accuser to the accused. But the DV industry has a vested interest.

More alleged victims produces more dollars. Not that those dollars seem to be alleviating the suffering of those who genuinely need protection from violent partners, either male or female.

In the opinion of the Men's Rights Agency that will always be the case whilst only one side of the problem receives attention. Men as victims of violence and abuse are ignored, as are violent women. There are no anger management services for women, for to provide these services would be to admit women can be and are violent and that goes against the doctrine "women are always the victim and men the perpetrators of violence" and - "if they hit back, it is in self-defence".

Sue Price says: "We have a system out of control! Using false statistics to create a climate of fear, domestic violence organisations have waged an unjustifiable war on men in general, thereby removing thousands and thousands of women and children from the security of their home life to be consigned to the welfare rolls and relying on government handouts for support. That's not independence - it is a retrograde step."

Price says she mentions domestic violence early in the piece because, although it is a state legislative issue, it is the tool that is often used to dictate the carriage of a family law matter. An easily gained domestic violence order against a father gives an undoubted advantage by removing him from the home, thereby establishing sole parenting, which usually results in a financially beneficial settlement of the family assets.

There is serious speculation from the legal profession that only 5 to 10 percent of applications are genuine.

Federal Government sponsored organisations perpetuate the myth:The Federal government has involved itself in the issue of domestic violence and perhaps a quick look at the domestic violence section of the National Crime Prevention website illustrates the "blinkered" attitude that prevails in any discussion on domestic violence. The reading literature on this site is confined to reports about women as victims and men as perpetrators. There is not one study showing that perpetrators of domestic violence are found equally amongst men and women - yet there are more than one hundred international studies to prove this is so.

For most people it is a frightening thought, for men in particular, to realise that mothers, who are viewed by society as the "gentle hand that rocks the cradle" could in fact be the perpetrator of dreadful harm to their children and their husbands/partners.

Melanie Phillips, a noted UK social commentator said, "Men are terrified of being thought prejudiced against women, not least because of an old-fashioned sense of chivalry. They look at the absence of women among captains of industry or Members of Parliament; they look at the football hooligan and the burglar from hell and they think it must be true that women are their victims. But life's a lot more complicated; and the result of such brow-beating into false stereotypes is that everyone ultimately becomes a loser".

Are researchers failing to maintain their independence?
Research in this country seems to have been heavily influenced by academics, who are at the forefront of an anti-male, anti-father network that seeks to deconstruct and reconstruct men as if being a man is a pathology. As a result of this research we are seeing the emergence of programmes that have little empathy with maleness and masculinity and even less for the traditional family.

Well-known critic of statistical misinformation, John Coochey unearthed some interesting rules governing feminist research. He illustrated the implications in the following extract his paper Myths and Realities or All the Facts that Fit we Print.

Price says Feminist research methodology suggests:
• The distinction between subjective and objective research is rejected. All research occurs in a social context and reflects the researchers way of seeing the world. • The production of emancipatory knowledge and empowerment of those who are being researched is a central focus. • The research process should contribute positively to consciousness raising and transformative social action"

With such methodology, it is not surprising that stupidity occurs. But how on earth does it get included in Government policy? she asks.

Research becomes valueless when it sets out to support a predetermined conclusion that is formed as a result of obvious bias. Figures can, after all, be manipulated to provide a multitude of answers - it depends on the questions asked.

More anti-father propaganda in the name of research?
The rise of fathers' rights groups in Australia has caused some concern among feminist academics, prompting the production of two reports.

Miranda Kaye and Julia Tolmie with the 'help' of Professor Regina Greycar, at the University of Sydney, based their work on interviews with various personnel from men's groups and by searching through submissions made to government inquiries.

Price says the standards normally expected from university faculty members appear to have been forgotten in the report's attempts to grasp at straws to belittle men's groups.

When legal academics, who are engaged in funded research resort to using newspaper articles as the basis for their commentary, and ignore evidence to negate the information, one might question if they are engaged in quasi-journalism or credible research. Journalists, at least, have a professional standard that requires the subject to be given the right of response prior to publication.

Censorship applies to 'men's issues':
Loyalty to an extreme pro-feminist doctrine is creating a barrier between men and women that is present not only in the domestic violence industry, but sadly, in our universities too. On July 18 2000, the Guild Council at the University of NSW, banned their magazine, Tharunka from producing an upcoming "men's issue" that would have dealt with the 'men in present society, including health, suicides rates, imprisonment and men's attitudes to feminism'. The Guild Council said it "condemns any proposal to produce a men's edition or 'white heterosexual male' edition of Tharunka. At the same time, the Council passed a motion approving the publication of a Women's Edition of Tharunka!

Educational staff often find themselves silenced and those who fail to abide by the restrictions will lose their tenure or their working life will be made so unpleasant they are forced to resign. The latest in line is Jeffery Asher. Albeit a Canadian, his situation has probably been mirrored here in Australia many times, especially in our primary schools where men have been discouraged from becoming teachers by the threat of false child abuse or sexual harassment allegations.

Asher, a professor at Montreal's Dawson College, found his "men's studies" and "feminist propaganda" course cancelled after a four person committee accused him of belittling and marginalising women. Asher, who was judged outstanding by 85% of his predominantly female class equipped his students with the skills to analyse the information put before them, instead of blithely accepting everything that is said as fact. For telling the truth about the falsity of domestic violence statistics and the equity pay dispute amongst many other issues, he was reassigned to teach courses in critical thinking, science and technology and business ethics.

Accusing the "politically incorrect"
Oppressive regimes have always used tactics of expulsion and alienation to quash unwanted criticism. Unfortunately, here in Australia, most attempts to put forward another point of view have been quickly silenced by accusations of sexism, racism and any other 'ism' or 'phobia' that comes to mind as a result of an undue adherence to political correctness.

Few people seem to notice any longer that when derogatory statements about traditional social and moral standards are made and reinforced through mentioning the "extremist right wing," that such views are themselves an attack on the sanctity of established moral traditions, that in fact such views are expressions from the
outermost end of the radical extremist left wing.

Anti-male, anti-father and anti-family bias has crept into the debate about families and family law. It is contaminating research studies and government attempts to change the policies dealing with these issues are stifled. This bias resulting from the pro feminist agenda is perhaps responsible, more than any other reason, for the mess we find ourselves in today - record divorce rates; dysfunctional families; children abused and neglected; children failing at school, particularly boys; and record suicide levels, particularly men.

One might ask the question - has the government now adopted social policies that accept high levels of divorce because they believe this is good for our nation? Have they lost the will to make the changes needed to restore confidence in family life, or is it a phenomenon they can do nothing about? I would suggest the government should seriously consider adopting policies that aim to restore some stability and expectation for future security. When one marries it should not be intended as a short term measure until something better comes along. There is a growing movement of both men and women who have woken up to the anti family, anti-male agenda that is pervading all facets of our life. The time will come when enough of us will say enough.

There is ample research to show the harmful effects of separation/divorce on children. Every effort should be made prior to separation to encourage couples to stay together.

Counsellors admit "they got it wrong":
Counsellors and psychologists in the USA have recently acknowledged that for the past thirty years, they have been incorrectly advising couples to separate if they argue. This advice was based on a mistaken premise that arguing couples could not live together and should therefore divorce. But no-one thought to ask couples who stay together, if they argued!

People need to be able to learn how to give and take criticism, for it is only in this environment that consensus can be reached and people can feel they have been heard. If concensus cannot be reached, as it may not be in all instances, then many long-standing marriages have survived by resorting to the old maxim "we'll agree to disagree".

We are obviously not suggesting that all couples should stay together no matter what, but there must be some checks and balances to try to slow down the increasing divorce rate. A positive counselling course of this nature should be a requirement before separation and could be encouraged prior to issuing sole parent pensions.

Sue Price says the Men's Rights Agency Our has considerable success in reuniting couples by providing them with all the facts - realistic financial information that may vary from the unrealistic expectations created by other groups. The difficulties for the children of divorce, the costs of running two households and the diminished value of joint assets when split between two can become persuasive reasons for both parents to try again to restore the love and affection they obviously felt for each other in the past.

Often couples are more willing to try again when counsellors are prepared to guide them towards that goal by exploring the more positive aspects of their relationship prior to what may have been just a minor 'hiccup'. Instead much of the counselling on offer seems to escalate a minor incident/disagreement into enormous proportions with the only solution on offer -separation/divorce.

Women's Rights and Men's Suicide:
Most men and women acknowledge the justification for equal rights for all people and considerable effort has been made to support the concept. However, we are seeing a movement that has gone far beyond the concept of equal rights and is now creating a gender war between men and women.

Over-concentration on rights for women has caused its own imbalance. A growing number of women have no concept that along with their rights they have responsibilities and if their rights are going to be exerted it will have an effect on others rights. Few seem to understand that for every right that is created, someone or something else is in some way restricted. In some cases of family breakdown the restriction can be so severe as to remove the motivation for life itself. Witness the suicide rate among fathers of divorce.

2028 adult men aged 20 years and over committed suicide in 1998. Professor Pierre Baume estimates 70 percent of these are due to relationship breakdown. That is 27 per week. A national disgrace! We first attempted to raise this issue at the Men's Forum in Canberra 1998, but it has taken the suicide of a federal politician Greg Wilton before any response was noted. Then it became the subject of 'depressive illness', not a depressed reaction to an entirely curable set of circumstances that could be alleviated, if a father's role in his children's lives was acknowledged and facilitated as soon as separation takes place.

When you take away children from their fathers or severely restrict their contact, you take away a father's reason for living!

We are sure the sequel for mothers would be just the same if they lost their children at the same rate as men lose their children, as a result of Family Court decisions.

Men could be forgiven for thinking they are being punished for some reason, when they find they can only see their children for minimal times, as specified by the court and the majority of the lifetime accumulation of assets is given to their ex partner. The final insult is to garnishee the paying parent's income, usually the father's, as if they are not to be trusted to support their children.

No-fault divorce has mostly benefited women and our statistics show that if fault were still taken into account women would qualify as being in the majority. We could live with "no-fault" family law legislation providing automatic blame is not assigned to the father, as appears to be the case now.

We cannot close this commentary without bringing to your attention concerns we have about sole custody, mediation, the principle of the "best interests of the child", Section 121 of the Family Law Act, and the unfair practice of restricting DNA testing to a small group of court approved pathology companies.

Shared Parenting:
Sue Price says: "MRA is particularly concerned for the well being of our children and we spend much of our time encouraging fathers to stay in their children's lives. To this end we would strongly urge the adoption of shared parenting, for by doing so, children will be able to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents.

"There are many examples of week and week about, split week, or other arrangements that result in children being able to spend close to 50 percent of the time with each parent. It is an ideal way in the unfortunate world of divorce/separated parents to ensure children gain from both parents being involved in their upbringing. Shared parenting also limits the opportunities for friction between parents - they only see each other on change over once week, instead of twice a weekend and sometimes twice during the week.

"If the expectation of financial gain for the parent who keeps the children is removed, and an expectation that both parents will continue to fully participate in their children's future becomes the standard norm, then much of the acrimony that is present today will vanish. The relationship between the two parents and the children can be fully developed and the children can look forward to a hopeful future, albeit in separated circumstances."

Sanford Braver, ends his book, Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths with the words:

"…a future in which fathering is as valid as mothering; a future in which fathers are empowered by the courts, mothers and society to remain positive forces in their children's lives; a future in which mothers and fathers, though no longer connected through marriage, remain equally committed to working together for the good of their children - the only constituency that ultimately matters."

Section 121 removal:
Federal MP Roger Price recently tried to gain his party's approval to remove the Section 121 restrictions that prevent identification of the parties in Family Law cases. He failed in his initiative, but his attempt prompted a number of polls among the general public.

An overwhelming 93 per cent in a Sydney Daily Telegraph poll voted to abolish section 121. This figure is an indictment of the suspicion surrounding the operations of the Family Court. A court of justice needs to be open and accountable. The Family Court of Australia is neither.

A good example of the Family Court secretiveness occurred at the beginning of April 1999. The Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson made good use of the media to announce a reform plan for the Family Court. An article in The Australian newspaper said the plan would reflect the "firsthand feedback" from meetings between court personnel, 100 litigants, family lawyers and welfare groups.38

According to Justice Nicholson the criticism that emerged from the focus groups was different from the "second-hand" feedback of men's groups and the media. The article confirmed that costs, delay and anti-male bias had not figured as primary concerns and that men's groups had not been invited into the consultation process. It also said litigants had been security-vetted and that process may well have excluded any who felt considerable discontent with the Family Court processes.

In an effort to find out how many men and how many women clients had participated I asked Ms Robinson, Canberra Family Court for the gender breakdown. She agreed to forward the information as she realised it would not involve any breach of privacy. However, Sue Price says her request was personally refused by the Chief Justice less than an hour afterwards. Did he not want too close a scrutiny of research, paid for by the public purse, that could perhaps be regarded as a testimonial for the Family Court, rather than an independent critique?

The Australian people have a right to feel confident in their court system.

In the Best interests of the Family

Sadly, our society has not challenged the ever increasing divorce figures or the rapidly rising numbers of sole parents with children with any success, mainly because of the entrenched anti family beliefs held by many of those who are in a position to influence the policy makers of this country. Just as the early feminist movement despised women who chose to stay home with their young children, hardline feminism has evolved into a movement that seems to hold the same dislike for fathers and families.

The Family Court has, despite attempts to change the ideology remained true to a 'maternal preference'.

Until we can challenge the research conducted under the pro-feminist agenda by putting forward studies soundly based on approved research methods, designed to provide independent results, there will be no change.

Research undertaken into family law issues, including residency/contact and property settlement issues, the affects of divorce/separation on children and their parents, child support and spousal maintenance issues, domestic violence needs to be commissioned from independent services and the criteria for the research needs to be defined by a committee comprising all interested parties.

It is a disservice to Australian families to allow the allocation of large sums of research funding to a small number of academics, whose past research seems to be unable to find anything favourable about men/fathers and portrays women as victims of male dominance, if this is the only research allowed.

Stewart Rein, author of "Betrayal of the Child" is extremely critical of the extremist cultural or radical feminists. He says, "Their private political agendas and anti-male attitudes have helped to create circumstances threatening the very core and concord of male-female relationships. Ultimately, they are a real and present danger to the human rights of children."

We need to understand the damage that is being caused to Australian children as a result of family separation and divorce under the present regime. We need to act now to give both parents the reasonable expectation their relationship, whether married or defacto, will survive without policies providing encouragement to separate. If such a separation does occur then both parents should be able to fully participate in their children's lives and not find themselves consigned to "visitor" status.

Children do need both parents!

The website for Men's Rights:www.mensrights.com.au Their telephone number is 073 805 5611.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Investigative TV journalism at its best.

Losing the Children

Liz Jackson tells a compelling and intimate story of a family's
tragic breakdown.

Date: 16/08/2004

LIZ JACKSON, REPORTER: It was a shocking and seemingly
incomprehensible act, but one that is far from unique. In the small,
bleak hours before dawn on Anzac Day morning three months ago, a
Brisbane man took the lives of his two small children. Jessie was 20
months, Patrick was 12 weeks.
Their father, Jayson Dalton, took this footage of the children the
night before, after what he told them was a bad day for Daddy in the
Family Court.

JAYSON DALTON (ON HOME VIDEO FOOTAGE): We had a bad news today about
the courts. Yeah, you're going to miss Daddy, aren't you?

LIZ JACKSON: It appears it was some hours after he had drugged the
children that Jayson Dalton wrote a suicide email to his estranged
wife Dionne and then took his own life.

OWEN PERSHOUSE, FOUNDER, MENDS: What he did was monstrous. What he
did was crazy. What he did was evil. But it's too easy to just say
the person's bad or mad and leave it at that.

over the case and think, "I did what I could. There was nothing to
indicate this would happen." But emotionally, of course it affects
us. We're all human.
I think it affects everybody. We all live in the shadow of this happening to us, unquestionably.

LIZ JACKSON: And what's it saying to us, that phenomenon?

OWEN PERSHOUSE: "Do something. Do not ignore this."

LIZ JACKSON: Jayson Dalton appeared to be a father who doted on his children, especially his little girl. As the Government declares the need for major reform of the family law system, Four Corners tells the intimate story of what led to this tragedy. It's a story that confronts the issues of family violence, and the bitter battles for custody in the wake of family breakdown.


LIZ JACKSON: Dionne Dalton likes to be organised, and wanted everything on this day to be just right. In a few hours time, she would be marrying Jayson Luke Dalton. Her husband-to-be's stepmother, Evelyn Dalton, is a hairdresser, and she'd flown over from Western Australia to help prepare for the big day. Jayson and Dionne picked her up from the airport.

then of...very caring, very tender. He was proud of her. You could see it. Like I said to him after I met her, "You've hit the jackpot, mate. Good on you."

LIZ JACKSON: Dionne had met Jayson after he'd contacted her through an Internet chatroom site. Eight weeks after their first date, they were living together. Six months later they were engaged.

DIONNE DALTON: I was just so ecstatic that he'd proposed to me. I thought, "This is the man I'll spend the rest of my life with and have children with."

LIZ JACKSON: Dionne had been married before, but this was not going to stop her getting married in white.


WOMAN 1: Do you want any more gold to wear? Got enough?

DIONNE DALTON: Should I take my watch off?

WOMAN 1: Yes.

WOMAN 2: Yes.

WOMAN 1: Brides don't wear watches.

DIONNE DALTON: How will I tell the time?

WOMAN 1: Don't worry about it.

WOMAN 2: That's what Jayson's for.


WOMAN 2: That, and he looks decent in a black suit. (Chuckles) The only reason. He's just there for colour.

DIONNE DALTON: We're not relying on Jayson this week.

LIZ JACKSON: There'd been a small incident with Jayson a few days before which no-one really wanted to talk about.

EVELYN DALTON: Jayson and Dionne came to pick us up from the motel. Dionne was driving and Jayson was a passenger, and I looked at the windscreen and I said, "Did someone throw a rock at the screen?" And he never lied to me, he was always honest, and he said, "No, I put my fist in it." And I just said, "Oh," and I said no more.

DIONNE DALTON: I can't remember what it was over, but he...he just punched the windscreen and the windscreen shattered. It was the first time I'd really, really seen him get really aggressive. The alarm bells were ringing in my head, but I just thought, "No, I can't pull out of this wedding three days before we're due to get married."

LIZ JACKSON: Dionne was Jayson Dalton's first serious girlfriend, and he held the view that marriage was for life.

EVELYN DALTON: It was always in his mind, and he used to voice it, that he was only going to get married once. He didn't want to be divorced like his dad, and he wanted children. That was the whole package.

LIZ JACKSON: Everything went smoothly as the two families were joined together, but not everyone was happy. Dionne's mother, Julie Wherritt, hadn't liked Jayson from the day that she'd met him, and found herself sidelined at her own daughter's wedding.

JULIE WHERRITT, DIONNE DALTON'S MOTHER: I knew from the first time I
met Jayson that Jayson was a control freak. Jayson had to have control. He was a perfectionist and he had to have everything going the way he wanted it.

LIZ JACKSON: Dionne's bridesmaid increasingly shared Dionne's mother's doubts - a groom who chose the bridesmaid's dress?

SHARYN WRIGLEY: Jayson came with me to choose the bridesmaid's dress. He chose the colour and he chose the dress. I had no say, and on the day of the wedding, he decided the hairstyles, and, uh...he was a very... Then the true colours just started coming out. He was a controller.

LIZ JACKSON: But who could really care, as long as the couple were happy?

After the honeymoon, they moved into the house that Dionne had bought before they were married - a weatherboard in the Brisbane suburb of Kelvin Grove. Dionne remained estranged from her mother and began to see less of her friends.

DIONNE DALTON: I'd been so close to my mother and my family, but I took his side, and that's basically when the rot set in. From that time, we just didn't have any contact, really, with Mum.

SHARYN WRIGLEY: All of a sudden, Dionne wasn't allowed to have her friends. Dionne wasn't allowed to go out. Jayson made sure that I wasn't going to be someone who was taking Dionne out Saturday night and Friday night.

LIZ JACKSON: After the wedding, they saw very little of Jayson's immediate family as well - his father and stepmother lived in Western Australia. He was an only child, and his parents separated when he was eight. He started off living with his mother, but it didn't work out.

Val Dalton is Jayson's father's cousin.

VAL DALTON: He, uh...would go into rages and so on. He, um...he did that with his mother when he was living here at the coast, and he was expelled from a school. I believe he threatened a teacher and, um, so he went back with his father.

LIZ JACKSON: When his father enrolled him at Mount Isa High School, he specifically asked that Jayson not be taught by women, to avoid the problems he'd had at his last two high schools.

Mollie Dalton is Val Dalton's sister.

MOLLIE DALTON: From accounts by his father, there does seem to have been a problem. There seems to have been a kind of anger that often surfaced in him and sometimes led to, um, you know, violent actions or speech against... particularly against women.

LIZ JACKSON: Four months into the marriage, Dionne was pregnant.

DIONNE DALTON: We were both just so elated and so, just, shocked and surprised because we had been trying for about four months and when it did actually happen, we just ecstatic at the thought that we were going to have a baby.

MOLLIE DALTON: They seemed to, uh, talk together a lot about what was to be done, though we wouldn't have always spoken to Dionne in the way that Jayson sometimes did. He had a rather abrupt way of speech sometimes.

DIONNE DALTON: We were still going along quite well, but he was just verbally abusing me.

LIZ JACKSON: What sort of things?

DIONNE DALTON: Oh... Words I don't want to repeat. A lot of swearing, using the F word, using the C word and every second word was "F this, F that, F this, F that." And it just demoralised me totally when he would speak to me that way because I decided that I was doing everything in my power that I could to do what he wanted.

LIZ JACKSON: While Dionne was pregnant, Jayson decided that they would start a business - a shop that would boast the largest collection of door handles in Australia. Up until the day she went into labour, Dionne ran the shop, while Jayson continued his job with a mining company.

DIONNE DALTON: It was really hard on me and he was hard on me as well, just making sure that we met figures and he got the achievement...he achieved the goals he wanted to achieve.

LIZ JACKSON: On September 12, 2002, Jessie Caitlin Dalton was born.

DIONNE DALTON: The day before, he'd had a huge argument with me and it put me into stress and the next day they induced me. But he was very apologetic to me that night.

LIZ JACKSON: From the moment she was born, Jayson was besotted. She was a delightful baby, but business was business.

DIONNE DALTON: He just kept on at me the whole time, trying to pressure me and get me to go back to the business and leave hospital.

LIZ JACKSON: When Jessie was one week old, Dionne was back at work three days a week, taking Jessie with her.

DIONNE DALTON: It was like I was on autopilot. I did that for six months until Jessie got to the stage where she was crawling around and needed some stimulation. So we put her into day care two days a week.

LIZ JACKSON: By this time, Dionne says that Jayson had started to hit her.

DIONNE DALTON: The first time he did it to me I was just absolutely terrified. I said, "Why did you hit me? What did I do to deserve that?" He said, "You didn't do as you were told. If you had done as you were told, it wouldn't have happened." I said to him, "But I didn't do anything wrong. I just did what I was supposed to." "You didn't do it the way I wanted it done."

LIZ JACKSON: His temper was increasingly bad. Here Jayson is getting Dionne to video a car he believes has cut him off.


JAYSON DALTON: Zoom in on the bloody thing there.

DIONNE DALTON: I'm just nervous, OK?

JAYSON DALTON: Just zoom in!


LIZ JACKSON: But she was not thinking of leaving.

DIONNE DALTON: I'd always said that if anyone hit me I'd leave a relationship straightaway. But at that stage, because I had Jessie, I was too scared to go anywhere else. I thought, "I've frozen my family out of the picture." So they weren't there for me anymore and I had no one else to trust.

LIZ JACKSON: In April 2003, Jessie was christened. Jayson's stepmother, Evelyn Dalton, came over from WA for the service.

EVELYN DALTON: That was all very nice. We had a nice time. Uh, we came home and Dionne changed clothes and I noticed some bruises on her arms. And I said to her, "What happened here?"

DIONNE DALTON: And I just broke down in tears and told her about what had been going on.

EVELYN DALTON: And she said then he was very controlling. He was starting to push her around. I knew that it wouldn't stop there. It would get worse. It does.

DIONNE DALTON: And, um, anyhow, that night she confronted Jayson about it, when I'd gone to bed.

EVELYN DALTON: I spoke to him and said, "You know, you don't do this. This is not on." I also said to him, "If you continue in this manner, you will lose everything that's near and dear to you. The thing that you will lose will be your wife and children." And I said, "If you've got any feeling for me, you'll lose me." So we had a...not a... I probably... I said more than Jayson. Jayson didn't
have a real lot to say because he knew he was wrong.

LIZ JACKSON: A few weeks later it was Mother's Day and Jayson wrote Dionne a card from Jessie.


DIONNE DALTON: Thank you, Jessie. That's really nice.

JAYSON DALTON: Oh, Mummy's crying now. (Laughs) Why, what did she say, Mummy?

DIONNE DALTON: I can't read it, 'cause I'll cry again.

JAYSON DALTON: You'll cry again? Did it say something about that Jessie can't wait till she can say that she loves you all by herself?

DIONNE DALTON: That's right.

LIZ JACKSON: By now, Dionne was already pregnant with Patrick.

DIONNE DALTON: I fell pregnant with Patrick on May 5, 2003. The reason I remember the date is because I hadn't wanted to have sex with Jayson.
Jayson had forced himself on me. Um, I'd said to him at the time, "Jayson, you don't hit someone that you love. I don't want to have sex with you." And he was just very, very sullen and he was very, very angry. And, uh... Anyhow, he forced himself on me and, um, it was...it was a nightmare. And a couple of weeks later I found out I was pregnant.

The whole time I was pregnant with Patrick, he was hitting me and it was just getting worse and worse up until that... the first time I called the police.

LIZ JACKSON: On Dionne's account, it came to a head one night in November 2003 when Jayson lost his temper.

DIONNE DALTON: The next thing I knew, he threw the microwave at Jessie and I as we sat on the lounge chair. And I'd had enough. I just rang the police straightaway and they came out and they took him away to the watch- house. It took eight of them to take him away. The neighbours had all come out that night because there were police cars everywhere. And, um, he just... As soon as he came back, he said to me, "Do you want to stay together?" And he was very

LIZ JACKSON: The police obtained an interim domestic violence order to protect Dionne. One month later, just before Christmas, Jayson punched a hole in the French doors of their house and threw a broom at Dionne. He later admitted that 'regrettably' the handle had caught her on the back of her head. He took off with Jessie.

DIONNE DALTON: I was just out of my head with worry about where he'd taken her and what had happened. And, uh, anyhow, a police inspector came and he pulled me aside and said, "Look, this is escalating, this violence, and you've really got to do something."

VAL DALTON, JAYSON DALTON'S COUSIN: I offered to go over. And Dionne
said, no, the police were there with her, but... And I rang back several times.
Then she said "No, he's home now. Everything's alright. We'll work it out. I'll go to my mother's."

LIZ JACKSON: Val and Mollie Dalton called around in the new year. Dionne was by then over eight months pregnant. By now, both families knew that there were allegations of violence, that Jayson was subject to a domestic violence order and that he'd already breached it once.

MOLLIE DALTON, JAYSON DALTON'S COUSIN: We knew that there were allegations of it and Jayson himself admitted that he had hit her. He said, "To my shame, I have hit her." And he said, "I'll never forget that. I should not have done it." And he said, "But I am trying to be better. I am turning over a new leaf." And he did try to manage his anger.

VAL DALTON: Whenever I spoke to Dionne alone, she said that they had
worked things out, that they would work things out. And, um, I said, "Well, you don't have to put up with violence." Um, and I believe that very strongly.

LIZ JACKSON: Patrick James Dalton was born on 24 January, 2004. Dionne was back at work again within five days. The business was struggling.

VAL DALTON: Dionne could barely walk to go up their tall front stairs. We said, "You shouldn't be at work." She just laughed and said it had to be done.

LIZ JACKSON: But Dionne had decided she'd had enough. She wanted out
from the marriage. She made plans to leave at the end of April when Jayson would be away. But after a bad row on March 4, she packed her bags and fled to her mother's.

said, "He's just told me that it's on tonight." And she said, "I'm just so scared, Mum." And I said to her, "Just come."

DIONNE DALTON: He said, "Tonight's the night. It's on. It's going to happen tonight." So I packed up the car and I packed up Patrick. I went and picked Jessie up from day care and I took off to Mum's place.

LIZ JACKSON: It took 1.5 hours to drive down to her mother's place on the Gold Coast. In that time, Jayson rang Dionne's mobile phone 76 times.

DIONNE DALTON: The phone just kept ringing and ringing and ringing and ringing. And it just didn't even stop for a minute. It was just like that the whole way down until I turned it off. And at that stage, it was at 76 calls.

LIZ JACKSON: Were you afraid?

DIONNE DALTON: I was terrified, petrified. I didn't know what he was thinking, what he was going to do.

JULIE WHERRITT: Dionne handed me Patrick and was getting the bags out and Jayson pulled up out the front.

DIONNE DALTON: I was so scared because I thought he would really hit Mum.

JULIE WHERRITT: I had Patrick in my arms and I just turned to say, "I've got your son here, Jayson. You don't want to hurt him." And he took a swipe at me. But he only hit my hand.

DIONNE DALTON: He just wanted to get me outside and Mum wouldn't let me go outside with him on my own until the police came. But by the time the police turned up, he had gone.

LIZ JACKSON: Six days later, Dionne and her mother went to see a local solicitor. Dionne wanted to add names to the domestic violence order to keep Jayson away from her family and children. Ros Byrne took her instructions.

ROS BYRNE, LAWYER FOR DIONNE DALTON: She did talk about the physical
violence. But to me, my recollection is it was more... The concern was the emotional abuse she was being subjected to.

LIZ JACKSON: Did you get the impression she was afraid of him?

ROS BYRNE: Oh, she was terrified of him. Absolutely terrified, yeah.
Terrified of him and what he would do.

LIZ JACKSON: Dionne had it fixed in her mind that Jayson had guns, so the police went round to Kelvin Grove to check. They searched the house thoroughly, but none were found. Jayson was, however, taken away to spend the night in police custody for having breached his domestic violence order for the second time with his threatening behaviour at Dionne's mother's house. His family were now worried about Jayson's mental state.

MOLLIE DALTON, JAYSON DALTON'S COUSIN: He was very, very distressed.
He was also angry. Uh, he spent a lot of time crying and saying over and over again, "I just want my wife and family back."

DIONNE DALTON: I was saying to him, "No, I'm not coming back ever. This is it. It's over, Jayson. We can't get back together." And he'd say, "Oh, don't say that. Just say six months. Give me six months to prove myself. Don't say we'll never get back together."

LIZ JACKSON: Jayson phoned his father in Western Australia. He was in a state. Michael Dalton is a Vietnam veteran, so he rang the Veterans Counselling Service in Brisbane.

VAL DALTON, JAYSON DALTON'S COUSIN: He wanted Jayson to be put in
hospital. He felt that Jayson... Jayson had evidently spoken to him on the phone and he was very upset, over the top. And he wanted Jayson to be put in hospital.

LIZ JACKSON: It appears that Jayson was counselled at least three times by the Veterans Counselling Service over the following weeks. At the same time, he enrolled himself in a 12-week program for separated men. Their website reads, "Separated men needn't lose their shirt, their kids or their life."

Owen Pershouse is a founder of the program.

OWEN PERSHOUSE, FOUNDER, MENDS: I heard reports that he was extremely sleep-deprived, he wasn't sleeping very well, that he'd been depressed and maybe was given medication but he didn't take it - which is quite common in the clients that we deal with - but in any event, was, um...was not coping.

LIZ JACKSON: When the police released Jayson from overnight custody, midday on Thursday, 11 March, Dionne and her mother jumped in the car with the children and drove away from Julie's house.

JULIE WHERRITT, DIONNE DALTON'S MOTHER: The police talked to us and they said, "He's going to be so angry when he comes out of...when we let him out, that we think you need to get to a safe house. We can find you one, or if you know somewhere to go, go there."

DIONNE DALTON: I knew that he'd be absolutely aggro at the fact that he'd been in jail that night and that he'd be after some type of revenge for what had happened.

LIZ JACKSON: As the family headed out for a cousin's place in the country, a five-hour drive away, Dionne's own mental state collapsed. Over the next 24 hours, she became manic and delusional. She ended up in the Acute Mental Health Unit at Toowoomba Hospital with what appears to have been postnatal psychosis. Julie and Dionne's sister Tammy took over care of the children. Jayson found out what was happening.

VAL DALTON, JAYSON DALTON'S COUSIN: When I spoke to him about it, he
said, "The children will either be with their mother or with me." And I said, "It's very difficult for a father to look after two little children, two little babies." And, um, he said, "They will either be with their mother or with me. No-one else. Julie doesn't have the right to them."

LIZ JACKSON: Dionne's solicitor received a fax late on Tuesday, 16 March, telling her that the following morning, Jayson would be applying to the Family Court to have Jessie and Patrick reside with him.

ROS BYRNE, LAWYER FOR DIONNE DALTON: I was mystified to see it, because there hadn't been any suggestion up till that time that there was any issue about the children. And the children were being cared for by Dionne's mother.

LIZ JACKSON: The court case the next morning lasted just 14 minutes. There was only one brief reference to Jayson's domestic violence when Dionne's solicitor informed the judge, "there are domestic violence issues". Just those five words, no further information. Jayson had made arrangements to care for the children and the judge took the view that while Dionne was unwell, "the next most logical person to care for the children...is the children's father." He
ordered that the children be delivered forthwith to Jayson.

ROS BYRNE: The big problem with this case was that Dionne wasn't available, wasn't able to swear an affidavit because she was in hospital. So I was going on the information that I had been given by her over the phone and in a conference which lasted about half an hour.

LIZ JACKSON: Dionne's solicitor broke the news to Julie.

ROS BYRNE: Oh, she was horrified. Absolutely horrified. She said, "The children should be with me. I'm able to care for them. I'm not working."

JULIE WHERRITT, DIONNE DALTON'S MOTHER: I said, "What would you do, Ros, if these were your grandchildren?" And she said, "Oh, please don't ask me that question," and I said, "Well, I'm going to run."

ROS BYRNE: I said to her, "As a lawyer, I can tell you what I would do in your situation, but as an individual, I don't know what I'd do. As a lawyer, my advice to you is to bring the children back, because you don't want the police to become involved."

LIZ JACKSON: Julie and Dionne's sister Tammy headed back to Brisbane, taking the children with them. They stopped and called the Federal Police to confirm the advice they had from Dionne's solicitor. They were told if they could make it back before the court closed, Julie could try herself to get the judge to reconsider his order. So now they drove as fast as they dared. They made it to
the Family Court with just minutes to spare.

JULIE WHERRITT: I was so tired and I was so drained, and they said, "No, it's you going for the custody, you have to talk." This was just so far out of my comfort zone to even be in there.

LIZ JACKSON: Julie spilled out to the judge everything Dionne had been saying to her about Jayson's anger and violence, but she had nothing on hand to prove if it was true, and there was no evidence of violence to the children.

JULIE WHERRITT: He said, "You've told me that he's been violent to his wife, but you haven't really told me... He's been a hard father, OK, but he hasn't really been violent to his children." And he said, "They stay with him until she is well."

ROS BYRNE: I remember her sister saying that the children would be dead in a couple of days. That's what her sister said. I remember her shouting that out.

fax and faxed it off to...one to the Coolangatta police, one to 'Today Tonight', one to '60 Minutes' and one to 'A Current Affair'. And in that I wrote that Jayson had just received custody of his two young children and he was on his second or possibly third domestic violence order, and I couldn't understand really why. And I felt that if something wasn't done about this, that it would just only end up in tragedy.

LIZ JACKSON: Jayson looked after Jessie and Patrick for the next five weeks, until the case could be argued again, when Dionne was better. His father, Michael Dalton, had come over from WA and helped him with the job. No-one now denies that they cared for the children well. Jayson took time off work and spent lots of money on new clothes, toys and lawyers - borrowing heavily to meet the costs. But he was coming apart at the seams.

VAL DALTON, JAYSON DALTON'S COUSIN: He was crying all the time, 16 hours a day. He wasn't sleeping at night.

MOLLIE DALTON, JAYSON DALTON'S COUSIN: He kept a very meticulous diary. He noted down everything that happened and the order that it happened, and what people had said and if necessary, where they were standing when they said it.

VAL DALTON: Everything that went on, like people's expressions, the way you might hold the baby and feed the baby, or play with Jessie, and all phone calls - he started to tape his phone calls.

LIZ JACKSON: Dionne came out of hospital after 10 days, and Jayson allowed her access to Jessie and Patrick for the last two weekends before the case was listed back in the Family Court. When he handed over the children at Southport police station, Jayson had a tape recorder hidden under his shirt so he had proof if allegations or threats were made. Val Dalton went with him.

VAL DALTON: He had his little tape recorder taped, and he was absolutely driven by whether Dionne had looked at him, whether, um, she... Like, handing the baby to her himself, did she look at him? And he would play that tape recorder over 20 times on the way back, and I believe he played it again 20 times in the afternoon.

LIZ JACKSON: Jayson started documenting mosquito bites that Jessie got on access visits as evidence that he was the better parent. Dionne wanted the children back, but Jayson was hoping the court would order a shared care arrangement for the children to spend four days with him, then three days with Dionne, backwards and forwards every week. His family tried to tell him that shared care wasn't a realistic outcome.

MOLLIE DALTON: Because it was, um... He had no communication with Dionne. He had several DV orders against him with some additions to them, and he wasn't allowed to approach her house, and he also didn't really have a lot on his side of the case, because he'd been, as you know, accused of domestic violence, and there was truth in that. So he hoped against hope, I think.

LIZ JACKSON: Jayson was now missing sessions of his separated men's group, which met at this church hall on a Thursday evening. Daryl Sturgess was the group's facilitator. When Jayson did turn up, he kept himself to himself.

Did you feel he was guarded?

DARYL STURGESS, FACILITATOR, MENDS: Oh, yes, most certainly. Yes.

LIZ JACKSON: Only a few of the men who were in Jayson's group could be filmed, as most have cases coming up in the Family Court.

MAN: I knew his court case was coming up. He had high hopes for a good outcome because he had looked after the children for so much. I tried to counsel him that he might only get what everyone else gets or worse.

LIZ JACKSON: Daryl Sturgess says he didn't know that Jayson had applied for shared care of the children.

DARYL STURGESS: If that is what he did, it would fit my formula of wishful thinking.

LIZ JACKSON: The court case was brought forward to the Friday before the Anzac Day weekend. Jayson's father had already booked to fly to Mount Isa for a veterans' reunion. Jayson went to court with just his lawyers. Dionne had her family and friends.

DIONNE DALTON: I remember sitting in court, praying to God to just let me have the kids, let me have the kids. And I was... My solicitor had said, "Dionne, you'll be fine. You just sit there and smile at the judge."

LIZ JACKSON: The judge adjourned the court to read Jayson's affidavit. Dionne's doctor had said she was well enough now to care for the children, but Jayson had other concerns as well. The judge described them as follows. "She's a poor mother. She doesn't look after the kids. They're filthy. They come back with dirty nappies. She doesn't care for them." Both sides, of course, made allegations about the other parent, many of which were disputed. It was hard for the judge to assess who was telling the truth, but he had this problem with Jayson's case.

JULIE WHERRITT: He said, "But if you're so concerned about what a terrible mother she is, why do you want her to have them three days a week?" He said, "That doesn't follow."

LIZ JACKSON: At midday on Friday, 23 April, the judge made an interim order that Jessie and Patrick would reside with Dionne and spend one weekend every fortnight with Jayson.

DIONNE DALTON: We were just all so excited about the fact that we were going to get the kids back that weekend. When I did get custody, Jayson stormed out of the court and I didn't think much more about it.

LIZ JACKSON: You weren't at all worried about the impact that might have on Jayson?

EVELYN DALTON: No, I didn't think of that, actually.

LIZ JACKSON: Anyone talk to him afterwards?

OWEN PERSHOUSE, FOUNDER, MENDS: I spoke to him on Friday afternoon.

LIZ JACKSON: What did he say?

OWEN PERSHOUSE: I asked him how he was going, and he said, um...he said he was fine. He said that he'd lost the case - that's the way he framed it. He made some mention that his character was brought into some disrepute in some way in the court. I'm not sure of the details of that, but I mean, that's the nature of the court.

LIZ JACKSON: Jayson rang his father in Mount Isa. He was reportedly extremely emotional and angry, swearing and nearly incoherent. The judge didn't understand, and Dionne was trying to destroy him. His father later told police, "He just went berserk."

OWEN PERSHOUSE: Let's be real. During separation, normal people become abnormal, and people that are a little big dodgy to start with can become quite dangerous.

LIZ JACKSON: Val and Mollie were at Kelvin Grove looking after the children when Jayson returned from the court case.

VAL DALTON, JAYSON DALTON'S COUSIN: He was sad and flat, but he was
distraught about it, and then he picked up Patrick out of my sister's arms and he said, "He's my son," he said. "He's my son. I have the right to see him grow up. If they go to their mother, I won't even see them on their birthdays and Christmas." And he said, "But they're my children."

MOLLIE DALTON, JAYSON DALTON'S COUSIN: "Somebody else might be there
who doesn't even know them and that they're not related to, and I'll have no say in their lives and I'll just be working." So he was very unhappy about that aspect of it, and we tried to point out to him that it wouldn't always be as bad as that, but really, I mean, we had to agree with him - it wasn't looking good at all from his point of view. This was his last failure, I guess. Um...he'd lost the
business, or at least it was going down the drain, he'd lost his wife, and then with the verdict in the Family Court, he'd lost custody of the children for most of the time.

LIZ JACKSON: Val and Mollie agreed that one of them would go with Jayson on Sunday afternoon when he was due to hand the children over to Dionne. And then they left him with Jessie and Patrick. That night, Friday night, he took this footage.

JAYSON DALTON (ON HOME VIDEO FOOTAGE): We all love each other, don't we? We had a bad news today about the courts. Yes, you're gonna miss Daddy, aren't you?

LIZ JACKSON: The following day, Saturday, Jayson was alone with the children. These are the last photos he took on that day.


On Sunday morning, Anzac Day, Val and Mollie tried to ring Jayson. There was no reply. Dionne and Julie went to the dawn service.

DIONNE DALTON: We were just so elated about the fact that, you know, we were going to have the kids back, and then, um...anyhow, we were making preparations all day, vacuuming their bedroom and getting everything straightened out, and putting cots in, and change tables, and all sorts of things.

LIZ JACKSON: On Sunday afternoon, Jayson failed to show at 4:00pm at Southport police station - the time the judge had ordered for the handover to occur.

JULIE WHERRITT: It got to 4:05, and Dionne said, "Come on, we're going into the police station." I said, "No, no, don't panic yet. Give him a chance, give him a chance."

LIZ JACKSON: By 5:30 in Brisbane, it was getting dark. Val and Mollie went around to Kelvin Grove. They still hadn't been able to raise a reply from Jayson, nor could his father, his friends, or the police. The lights were off, but Jayson's car was in the drive. They rang and told Jayson's father, who rang the police.

MOLLIE DALTON: And they went into the house, and they found them all there, all on the big bed in the main bedroom, and they were all deceased.

LIZ JACKSON: Dionne was still driving up from the Gold Coast. No-one wanted to break the news on a mobile phone.

DIONNE DALTON: I was praying to God all the way up that they would be OK, and anyhow, as soon as we got to Kelvin Grove Road and we came down the crest of Kelvin Grove Road, I saw the, um...all the lights and everything, and I just knew in the back of my mind that the kids were gone. Anyhow, we pulled up on the other side of the road, and I ran across Kelvin Grove Road to where the police were, and I just collapsed in a heap. And, um, I said to them... I said, "Are they alive?" And they said, "No, they're both dead, and so is Jayson." And...and it just broke me up how he, um... I just couldn't believe that he'd actually done that to me, and taken the kids. He knew that the only thing I cared about were my children. My beautiful children who I'd had were just gone out of my life in that one single moment, that one simple, selfish act.

LIZ JACKSON: Jayson wrote a suicide email, which was sent at 8:30 that morning. He would have the last word. Subject - "Goodbye Dionne." It reveals little more than here was a man who could not see, even in this last terrible act, that what he was doing was wrong. "I never wished we could have gone through this way. I was being fair the whole way through. I believe the children would have been truly affected, and you know Jessie adores me. I love you more than I can say, and had forgiven you up until Friday. Lots of love from us all, Jayson, Jessie and Patrick."

MOLLIE DALTON: Well, we had the wake here after Jayson's funeral and cremation ceremony, and I was amazed at the the number of men who were saying, you know, "This all goes back to fathers not having equal rights as far as custody of the children is concerned." They'd say, um, "You know, the fathers should have justice."

LIZ JACKSON: Cases like Jayson Dalton's are used by aggrieved fathers groups to argue that the Family Court is biased. This is the agenda that greets the new Chief Justice of the Family Court, who began in the job just six weeks ago. She can't comment on particular cases, but rejects the general argument.

DIANA BRYANT, CHIEF JUSTICE, FAMILY COURT: Everyone who hasn't got what they achieve on the one side is going to be critical of that decision. And that ignores the fact that there was another side that was being put to the court. And you talk about people at the wake, and all the men said this. If you had an objective observer who asked all of the women in those cases what they thought - whether they thought the decision was fair or not - I'm sure that you would get a different response.

DIONNE DALTON: I don't even blame Jayson. I mean, he was a very sick man, and if I start laying blame on people, it's not going to achieve anything. It's not going to bring the kids back.

Forum (Now closed, but available for viewing)

Transcript http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2004/s1178163.htm

Please note: This transcript is produced by an independent
transcription service. The ABC does not warrant the accuracy of the

The contents on these pages are provided as information only. No responsibility or liability is accepted by or on behalf of FLINT for any errors, omissions, or misleading statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages connect, whether provided by FLINT or by any organisation, company or individual. No mention of any organisation, company or individual, whether on these pages or on other sites to which these pages are linked, shall imply any approval or warranty as to the standing and capability of any such organisations, companies or individuals on the part of FLINT. All rights reserved.