Fairburn & Godfrey 2015 FamCA 404

The case involved a child aged 13 years.  The parents were unable to communicate due to a history of family violence, and both parents had a history of significant alcohol abuse that impaired their parenting capacity.

The child protection department had received notifications about neglect in three separate years and monitored the child by conducting periodic risk assessments for risk of neglect while the child was in the mother’s house.  The department monitored school attendance and the child’s physical wellbeing.  The department expressed dissatisfaction about the mother’s level of compliance, including dissatisfaction that the child was exposed to a risk of sexual assault but the mother did not prioritise counselling for the child about sexual assault (safety skills).    The department declined to intervene further.

The judge found that the child was at significant risk of harm in the father’s house.  The judge found that the child’s relationship with the mother was mechanical and the child derived little emotional support from the mother as the child spent a lot of time either alone or with an older sister.  The judge ordered that the child live with the mother.