Court or Tribunal: 
Catchwords: Child Abduction, Enforcement of Orders, Hague Convention, Relocation
Judges:  Forrest J

Background: Four girls, aged between 9 and 14, moved to Australia with their mother in 2010. The mother got the father's consent for the trip by claiming that it was just a holiday. Since arriving she however has stated that she and the children wished to stay in Australia permanently. Their Italian father has been embroiled in a custody battle with the Sunshine Coast-based mother since finding out that the mother deceived him as to the nature of the trip. The girls' mother exercised a last ditch attempt to have a Family Court order the girls go back to Italy to face custody proceedings overturned. 
  [Legal Issue]The initial order to return the girls to Italy was made in line with the Hague Convention, which relates to international child abduction. In the final proceedings before the Family Court, counsel for the Department of Community Services and Child Safety argued the order should not be overturned in fairness to every other family who had to abide by the Hague Convention. The mother's legal team claimed the girls did not want to go back to Italy and their views had not properly been ascertained in an interview with a family court consultant.   [Court Orders]Justice Colin Forrest dismissed the mother's application to have an order the girls return to Italy discharged. Justice Forrest ordered the girls be returned to the care of the Community Services Department and an official accompany the girls back to Italy. Justice Forest also ordered the Italian father make an undertaking to withdraw any criminal complaints made in Italy against the mother and not make one in the future.      

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