New Zealand woman fleeing domestic violence in Australia fighting to prevent children returned

A New Zealand woman is fighting against being forced to return to Australia where she fled domestic violence. 

The woman, who can't be named for legal reasons, left Australia with her New Zealand-born children last year, but now her former partner has accused her of abduction and wants the children returned under the Hague Convention.

The international agreement aims to make sure children who are taken overseas are sent back to the country they normally live in. 

The whānau only moved to Australia in 2017 and later that year the father was arrested and convicted on domestic violence charges.

An Australian judge also imposed a family violence order preventing the man from contacting the woman.

Late last month, the New Zealand Family Court ordered the woman to return to Australia, but her lawyer has appealed. 

"I never thought in a million years that I would get forced out of my own home," she tells The Hui. 

"He's done more than enough to prove that he is not a safe person to be around. It's just terrifying to think of going back to the life we had there."

Auckland University law professor Mark Heneghan questions whether the Hague Convention, ratified in 1980, is still fit for purpose.

"More and more cases are coming forward where women are fleeing from situations where they feel unsafe. It was never designed for those cases back in 1980 when we didn't really talk about family violence," he said.  

The woman told The Hui: "I just really, really need for my children and I to be safe and there's absolutely no way we will be if we're forced back to Australia."

Watch the video above.

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air.