Men and domestic violence: interview F (pt.1)

 
Recorded at Nairne (Mt Barker), SA, 2 Apr 95

This interview is in two parts - you can also move directly to Part 2.



Background: F. is a single father with an infant daughter, and works at a variety of labouring jobs. His turbulent relationship with a former de-facto in principle ended more than a year earlier, but in practice is somewhat forced to continue in the present. He is tall, thin, bearded, in his late twenties, well-read, articulate and expressive, a character of quite surprising complexity and range of experience.

The discussion was recorded in a fairly quiet environment, with only occasional interruptions from children and others, but not all text could be identified on the tape. Punctuation symbols such as commas, dashes and '...' marks are used to indicate pauses as well as grammatical flow. Missing sections are shown by '//..//'; where the comment could be guessed at, it is similarly enclosed in '// //' marks; comments about context, or relevant actions, are shown in '[ ]' braces.



T: So just... sort of... um... I remember M. [a woman living in the house at which the interview was recorded] here said that you'd... you know, she'd had difficulty believing your... that the story was really vile... So you've got, what? an eighteen-month old child? Two years?

F: Two years. Two and a half years old.

T: What's happening in that? Are you her full-time parent, or what?

F: No, no. I'm going through the Family Court, and have been for the last two years, and, um...

T: Almost since she was born, or before that?

F: No, after she was born. When she was about ten months old. And... at the moment I have interim access from Friday five p.m. till Sunday five p.m. and the mother has interim custody. The way that came about was rather interesting, that, um, in the beginning I was allowed a six-hour visit on Sunday, I think it was, and on the second weekend I was allowed to take Y. [the infant daughter] from Saturday morning eleven a.m. till Sunday afternoon.

T: So an overnight stay. Yes.

F: And, anyway it came about that Mum was using heroin, so I got access, I mean I got custody, and, er, however, she went back to the courts and said, oh, she tried this heroin stuff and didn't like it and therefore the judge said, "well, J. [the child's mother], we'll give you the benefit of the doubt, you can have custody - we'd rather give custody to the mother anyway - F., you can now go back to having access". The difference being when J. had custody, they said it was very generous that she would give a visit and an overnight with my daughter; when I had custody, it was just standard procedure to give her every weekend from Friday until Sunday.

T: Right.

F: And she actually offered to give me the over... not the overnight, the visit - and the judge said that was beyond... he didn't expect her to give that much. However I didn't offer anythink, it was just immediately expected by the judge it was just standard she should have the whole weekend. When custody went back to her, my lawyer S. then argued the point that if Mum had got the whole weekend, why shouldn't Dad have the same as what she got. So I then got the weekend. Um... and that's where I'm at at the moment with the whole thing. We'll go to our trial in a couple of months, I think.

T: Right. So let's go back... this is obviously before the child is born... how long have you been in... have you had this relationship? What's going on there? Go back months.

F: Only ... I went out to the bush for a period of, um... four months, and I just wanted to be away from everyone for a while. And I took an old .303 rifle that I'd bought from a local pub, a mate of my father, um... I stayed out an old empty building out there, it didn't have running water or electricity, and at night-times I'd go out and shoot a kangaroo, and I'd spend the day skinning it and making it into a curry and giving the bones to the dog and living like a bit of a wild-man! After four months, um, I came into, back to Adelaide and got a job, and, er, I met J. at a party about a week after I'd been back. And she was pretty easy-going so within a day of knowing her I'd moved in with her - I mean I had my own house, but I moved in with her, and staying in at her place overnight. Nine months later Y. came along!

T: Right. So she got pregnant very quickly.

F: Yeah.

T: So, the kind of environment... I mean, you're how old, and how old is she?

F: Twenty-nine, both of us.

T: Both of you are twenty-nine. Right. So this is only two years ago - about that?

F: A bit more than that - three years.

T: Y., she's, what, two years old now?

F: Yeah, she's November, she'll be three in November.

T: So she's two, coming on two and a half now. Right. So she got pregnant. What kind of relationship did you have during this time?

F: Well, when I first met her, as far as I was concerned she was a 'dirty girl', and um...

T: In what sense?

F: Well, I just picked her up at a party, and she would basically sleep with anyone, and it was very easy to get her in bed, and I had no intention of relaltionship whatsoever. She told me, um, after a couple of weeks, she wanted to have a full-on relationship with me. I, I sort of said, "oh well, yeah, whatever you reckon, as long as you stick around, here I am". When she first told me she was pregnant, my first thing was "have an abortion" it's financial suicide to start having kids and all that, I had no intention. She decided she wasn't going to, she was going to go through with it, so because she decided to go through with it I decided to support her with it. And, um... when...

T: So you supported her decision either way?

F: Yeah. Yeah. And, er when Y. was born, I found a love in me that I never even realised I had.

T: A very real love for the child.

F: Yeah. yeah.

T: Towards the mother, or what?

F: Yeah, towards the mother also. It definitely made... tied a knot between me and J.... um...

T: As far as you were concerned.

F: Yeah. And as far as she was concerned too.

T: Did you in fact get married?

F: No. No.

T: So it was a de-facto relationship.

F: Yeah. Um... we, we never got married, because we could never spend much time together. Within two or three weeks we'd be fightin' like cat and dog, and, er, so I kept my house, and she kept her house, we had separate houses, we would stay with each other, and when it got too bad we'd go apart.

T: Right. 'Fighting like cat and dog': can you explain that more?

F: One of the first things I came to with J. was a conclusion that it was really better if she just didn't drink, because every time she'd have a drink, one or two drinks of alcohol, she would get really abusive, and, um, start fighting.

T: Verbally, physically, or what?

F: Yeah, verbally to start with, and then physically, and I would end up hitting her back.

T: Right. So she's hitting you quite a lot before you hit back?

F: Yeah. Well, I...

T: What's she doing? I mean, first of all, can you describe an incident of that kind. If she'd been drinking...

F: If she'd been drinking...? Um...

T: What's coming up now?

F: She would start to abuse me. She would start to, um...

T: What forms did the abuse take?

F: She would call me names...

T: What are you [called]? [pause] It's not pleasant, but can you...

F: Well, yeah, she'd be swearing at me and saying "fuuck..."...

T: Yeah, but if she's calling you names, what is she calling you? Put yourself back in that situation: she's been drinking - what does the house look like?

F: The house... always kept the house clean...

T: No, I meant just build the scene: which room is she in now?

F: She'd be in the lounge room... there's a couch against the wall, television, kid playing Nintendo, and, er...

T: So she's playing Nintendo?

F: No. no, it's a child, her first child.

T: So she already had a child. Okay.

F: And she says she wants to visit her friends, and I say no, she'll be caught drink-driving, she can hardly walk. So then she'll go outside...

T: Sorry, just checking on the tape on this - go on...

F: I was saying she could hardly walk, so she shouldn't drive... so she'd go outside and sit in the car and I'd take the keys off her, and she'd sit there beeping the horn - beeep! - and waking up the baby and, um...

T: So she's intending to go off driving while very drunk, you were in fact stopping her from doing this.

F: Yeah.

T: Okay. Keep going.

F: Um... then she'd get very abusive, swearing at me... [quietly] "cunt" and all this sort of stuff...

T: Okay, keep going, that's fine, just keep going...

F: So, um...

T: It's all right, keep going... what's happening [in that circumstance]?

F: I'd eventually got sick of the child being woken up, um, and the abuse...

T: Is she hitting you?

F: Not at this stage.

T: Right.

F: So she goes outside, um, she's beeping the horn, I go outside and disconnect the horn, from inside, under the bonnet, so then she's banging the steering wheel trying to get the horn to work, getting more angry because it won't work, but then she come up to the window, and put her fist through the window, almost into the back of her son's head - not knowing he was there.

T: Right.

F: I then got very angry, ran outside, um... said "that's enough, stop it", you know, and she then started grabbing me by the hair and whatever, saying "you can't tell me what to do", and, um... so... I pulled her hands off me, and she started slapping me about the face.

T: So she's grabbed hold of you...

F: Yeah, right.

T: ...well, by the hair... right?

F: "You can't tell me what to do"...

T: ...so, pulling you by the hair...

F: ...so I'm pulling her off and pushed her off... and she said, "you can't tell me what to do", and I said, "well, right, you're going inside, you're not going anywhere in the car", and she then took a swing at me, and tried to slap me on the face, but I blocked it. So then she tried it again, and I blocked it again, and I said, "if you try to hit me once more, I'm going to hit you back". So she tried again, and I give her... a rather hard slap across the face, which knocked her clean off her feet onto the floor, and her son by this time had come out, seen his Mum get knocked down, and said "I'm going to call the neighbours".

T: How old, how old is the son?

F: About seven.

T: About seven. Right.

F: And he then ran off to get the neighbours, I run off, got him and... um... and the whole house was chaos, and it was always like that.

T: Right. So that was fairly typical of the environment within a week or so, particularly if she'd been drinking.

F: Oh yeah. Yeah. [pause]

T: Thank you.

[interruption by B., the men's-group coordinator]

T: ...that's one I definitely want, because it's...

B: That's the sort of stuff that's unbelievable.

T: Yes, it's... so okay, that's one that B.'s just brought up, that's an incident that B. was describing where it was her word against not only yours but a witness's, and her word still prevailed.

F: That's right. And...

T: Can you give me, can you lead me through that example?

F: Right. Um...

T: Give me the run-up, the incident itself, and then the follow-up.

F: Right, well, it was a, er... J. had wanted to go out to a, er... party... and I didn't like the idea, because it was a 'Fuckerware' party, and...

T: What do you mean by that?

F: Well, it's, um... sexual... toys...

T: So, selling sexual toys. Right.

F: ...and if you sell enough products, then there's a male stripper at the end of the night. And, um... most of the friends that she was going with were single mothers, and they were all intending to go out and get drunk and have a good time afterwards. I was somewhat... I suppose the word is jealous... not really jealous, I, I just didn't like the idea of her goiung out lusting after other blokes when we were trying to have a relationship. So, um... anyway, she said she was going and that was the end of the matter, and so I stayed home and looked after the kids. When she came back the next day - she come back about seven o'clock in the morning, rather drunk, just outright commanding sex... 'Cos I was annoyed with her anyway, I didn't... ah, I didn't want...

T: You weren't there. I mean, you weren't able to provide sex on demand.

F: Yeah, I just didn't like the idea. However, um, the next morning, when she got up, she wanted to go shopping, I'd organised with a friend of mine that every Saturday morning we'd go off to the beach and run across the sand-dunes and - er, training, go swimming, running, fitness stuff - and she wanted to go shopping. And she was in a bad mood anyway, and I was trying to avoid her as much as I could...

T: [wry laugh] She would be, anyway, if she's got a splitting headache!

F: I was trying to avoid her as much as I could, but I knew an argument was inevitable. So, um, anyway, this friend of mine came across and he said "are you ready to go?", and I said, "great, let's go". And J. got very angry, she said "oh, that's great, going to leave me with the kids and you go... gonna leave me to do the shopping, with er, two kids and... you're going off mucking around down the beach"...

T: Right. This is after she's pushed off for the night.

F: Yeah.

T: Yes.

F: This is Saturday morning, after a Friday night party. And I said, "well, this is something we've been doing for the last three weeks, so I want to keep a routine of training, otherwise I just won't get around to it, and this bloke's come a long way from ..", however, she just started abusing me. Like, I said to my friend, "let's just leave", so we walked out, with her at the front door abusing me, saying "don't come back!", and we were down the beach. I... from the beach I saw a police car go to my car - where I could see my car parked - and stopped. So I said to my friend, "I guarantee I'm in trouble for something now". And, er... anyway, he said, "but nothing happened!", but I said, "well, nonetheless, we'll see what happens". So we did our running and whatever, and we got in our car, I took him to a, er, train station, to catch a train to go home. Two police cars come up behind me, y'know, and...

T: Two police cars?

F: Yeah. And they asked me to get out of the car and put hands up against the side... I only had a pair of shorts and tee-shirt on, but they did a check for weapons. They said, "do you have any weapons in here?", and I said, "well, behind my seat there's a machete and a axe and a saw, because I've been chopping up firewood, because a big branch had fallen across the driveway". So they then took the machete, and said, "oh, right, this is a knife, this is a weapon", and, um, I said, "well, if you're gonna take that, take the axe and the saw with it, 'cos otherwise you're only taking half the story - you take the whole collection of tools, and that's one of the tools for a job I just done, and there's the wood in the back of my ute, that's fair enough. But if you're trying to take one tool out of the collection and say 'oh this is...', y'know, that's not...". So anyway, then they radioed another police car at her house and, er, they said "oh well, she's all right now, and, um, take the man into custody". So they questioned my friend separate from me, and they took me into the police station, and said, "well, right, usually we would have to, um..." - they advised me, "don't say anything", was the policeman's advice, he said, "usually we'd have to lock you up for twenty-four hours - for all domestics that's the standard procedure - and then let you go". He said, "however, you seem very calm about it all", he said, "there's not a bruise or a mark on her body, but she's saying you put a gun down her throat, a knife to her neck, and you bashed her and kicked her about, and there's not a mark on her. We can't find no gun or knife, so we have our doubts, but however, because the procedure must be followed..."

T: ..."you've got to be locked up."

F: ..."you've got to be locked up, then we'll process the paperwork, and we'll let you out in an hour or so, but you're not to go back to the house". I then said to the police officer, "I must go back to the house", and he said "why?" I said, "because I have my wallet there, my clothes there, I have my Harley-Davidson motorbike worth ten thousand bucks, and she's a heroin addict and she might sell it - will sell it - to get heroin, I know that for a fact. And my dog is there, and I don't want to mind out that my dog's been let out, or shot or killed, in the six or twelve weeks it might get till I eventually get my stuff". And so the police said, "right, we'll give you a two-hour... you can go there if you pick up that stuff with a police officer"...

T: Yeah. Fair enough, I mean, that's, that's, they're following their required procedure.

F: Yeah. So he said, "we don't usually let people do this, but we will in this case". So they locked me up for two hours, and, um, they did the paperwork, and then they let me out. My friend made a statement to say that he'd been there, she was the abusive one, and we'd just got out of the door to save any trouble and she'd been abusing me.

T: And this friend is male?

F: Yeah. And, um, so then... we, er, went to the police station, and they said "go to the top of the street and wait for a car, a police car". So we went to the top of the street, police car came after a while, we went down to my house, I got my motorbike and my dog, and, um, it was actually Sunday afternoon, and my actual court access time was until five p.m. Sunday. So I went...

T: What access time? Oh, sorry, to the child.

F: To the child. So I went to see if my child...

T: So you'd already had quite a fairly... quite a turbulent relationship? You had already separated, but arranged court access?

F: Yeah.

T: Okay. Sorry, I'd missed that.

F: Yes, well she asked me to come and spend the Christmas with her, um, rather than have the child away from Mum or whatever, you know?

T: Right, okay.

F: So I'd spent my weekend with her...

T: Sorry, that was a piece I hadn't got of the story.

F: So I said, "right, well, I'll bring Y. back with me at five o'clock", I wanted to make the most of my access. And she said "no way, you're not taking Y. out of the house!". So I said, "sorry, it's a court order, it's my kid until five o'clock!". The police officer then said, "you're using me as a bunny, there's a restraining order from you coming to this house, and you've used this as an excuse to come and get your kid", and he said, "anyway, it's not your kid, children aren't owned, they are separate individuals, nobody owns them, you can't say it's 'your kid', it's not your kid". I had... I... really felt angry that this person was telling that my own daughter was not my daughter, I had to bite my tongue, and... and just leave. As I left, I heard her screaming at the door, "you'll never see the kid again!", shook her fist at me, the police officer took this and her didn't like that. And later on, I had... I, I then had... I was on - what's it called? - 'remand with bail' or whatever.

T: Yes.

F: So I wasn't...

T: Because you had been arrested. Yes.

F: Yeah. And I had to appear in court. So I wasn't allowed to leave the state, I was on remand - so I'm already a 'criminal' in that aspect, um... I went to court three times, on the first time I went to court I was... basically...

T: Holding onto the scene, you're pretty angry about this now. I'm looking at your body language, you're very tense across the shoulder, so just...

F: Yeah. I went to court and, um, they, um, they let me go with bail, the second time... on the third occasion it was getting closer to the trial, and I had a witness that was going to go and say what he saw, and, um... so she just dropped it, dropped the charges.

T: So you were arrested, and charged, on her say-so, despite a witness being present.

F: And, and when...

T: And jailed.

F: Yeah. And when my witness finally was about to come up, she dropped the charges and that was the end of the matter.

T: So there's no response about false accusation or defamation?

F: Nothing.

T: So you've, you... she has made what her actions indicate is a false charge.

F: Yeah.

T: And... what redress do you have to deal with that situation?

F: My lawyer said to me, "well, you're free of it now, so - you know - don't rock the boat".

T: Right. So you have no redress at all.

F: No. No. Nothing.

T: So you have now... well, you don't have a criminal record.

F: No. No.

T: As a result of that, you don't have one, because she dropped the charges.

F: Yes, but what it does do is, um...

T: You have a police record.

F: Yeah, there's a police record and that, and she can always redress that, say "well, he did it last time and I let him go, I've..."

T: Right.

F: So they can say there's been a history of this.

T: There's been a history of this. But the history is in fact of... or rather...

F: It was just her say-so.

T: ...from what you've been saying, the 'history' is of her say-so without any physical evidence...

F: That's right.

T: ...and with considerable physical evidence that it wasn't actually so.

F: Apart from the fact that there's no police paper, black and white, saying that it did happen.

T: No, I'm saying that the, the physical evidence to back her story - as in, she was not bruised, she had no physical evidence of having... the, the injuries that she had, or rather didn't have, were not consistent with the story that she gave.

F: Yeah. That's right.

T: But that, you've got to go back to the original records to prove, whereas the record - the fact of the record - implies that there is something there.

F: Well, I've noticed that, um, in many cases, in the Family Courts, when we've gone there, I've, um, brought incidences up to S. [the lawyer], and said, um, about this incident with her putting her fist through the back of a window and to her son's head - it was an accident, but it did happen - S. will say to me, "it's irrelevant, you're fighting for custody of your daughter, not her son". So I said, "oh, okay". But the she uses incidences, when she says things that are from way back in the past or whatever, all of a sudden it does become relevant.

T: Like, for example, the fact that you had slapped her on that one occasion, yes.

F: That's right. All of a sudden that's very relevant, you know?

T: Yes.

F: And, um... the... I've learned that the power is in saying 'no'. See...

T: So that's the only power you have, is saying 'no'.

F: Saying 'no'. Yeah. It's, it is a strong power, most of women's power comes from that, I'm sure. You see, what would happen in the past is she would say "do you want to come and spend the night at my place", or whatever, "and I would say, "yeah!", but if she suddenly says, "well, no", then the power's in her court. If I protest or anything like that, then of course I'm in the wrong.

T: Yeah.

F: Now the only real power I've got is to say, that if she offers, will be to say "no". However, the Family Court...

T: So you've pretty much withdrawn... although you have had a sexual relationship with her, it's pretty much... do you have a sexual relationship with her? Or is she demanding sex?

F: Um... Now that I've been through the Family Courts and I've got my access from Friday to Sunday, I can be satisfied and calm, I don't have to rely upon her whims, all of a sudden will come and she'll say "no, I'm busy, you can't have her".

T: Yeah. So that... were you finding that the only way of getting access to your daughter - I think you wrote it down on there - the only way you had access to your daughter was consenting to sex?

F: Well, that was on one occasion, I think that was over Christmas, that was just point-blank, "if you don't sleep with me you don't stay here, and if you don't stay here you don't have your kid". That was...

T: And that was with a court order involved? You said that that was the //interpretation? impression you gave?//

F: The court order could be taken away. See, even though I've got my weekends, if she applied to the Family Court, any days like birthdays, Christmases or Easters ekcetra can be taken away from me - it's called 'special leave' or something - and the child just stays with the mother because it's a 'special day'.

T: So only the mother has 'special days'?

F: Only the mother, father doesn't - I've never had 'special days'.

T: Right. Okay. What I'm trying to do, as I've said, is just build up a picture of what's going on - a much more realistic picture. Um... from the court we'll obviously get her side of the story; what is clearly not happening is we're not getting your side of the story; and the 'real' story is somewhere in between. And it's not that you are 'wrong', but that this is how you perceive it - you see the difference?

F: Right. Yeah.

T: So it's not that you are wrong, or she's wrong, but simply "this is the perception". And what you're saying, and what many other men have said, is that the perception - or rather there's a sense that the court assumes - that the woman's perception is 'the correct one', and the men are lying. And I'm saying, these are both perceptions, both and neither are 'true'.

F: I, I would like to put forward that if joint custody was given as a standard procedure, and if the father for some reason isn't interested or he's out drinking or just doesn't turn up or whatever, then the mother mother has an argument to go for full custody.

T: So it's what you've described as a 'rebuttal' - sorry, 'rebuttable joint custody'?

F: Right.

T: So she has to argue for single custody, rather than automatically receiving it.

F: That's right. I think it's...

T: Because your daughter matters to you, from what you're saying.

F: Well, of course. I mean I have met some people, they just don't seem to care, you know? However, for some reason I do, so I just have to go along with it.

T: Is your partner - or your ex-partner - is she still a heroin user?

F: Yeah, yeah.

T: How much?

F: Probably only once a week or once a fortnight.

T: So it's not actually a daily habit, not a daily requirement.

F: Not at this point. It has been, but it's not //..//.

T: Any idea how she got into that space?

F: Both her sisters are, and, um, so through her family...

T: Yeah, I'm aware of it, 'cos the reason I ask is because heroin got its name because it's 'my sweet heroine that takes away the pain' - it originally had an 'e' on the end. It's the same chemical family as morphine, and it's used, generally speaking, in terminal illness. That's what it's //for//. What I've seen people using it for is to take away the pain and the fact of //life in adolescence?//, so it tends to be a very good reason why people get into it.

F: Well, you see, from... this is what I've worked out, that there's three daughters apparently, and at an early age, they've, they've told me they were sexually abused. And Dad - well, not by their father, but by somebody - and the father left 'em when J. was two years old. And he then... their mother, who was working long hours, he was looking after the kids, bringing them up.

T: Who was actually looking after the kids?

F: I'm not sure - babysitters or something? I'm not sure. But it seems to me that Mum wasn't always... at home... when...

T: So there's no father, and no mother?

F: Right. And by the time they were between twelve and fourteen years old, they were running off down the beach, sniffing glue under the jetty, and Mum was coming out in the car to herd them up with a dustpan and brush - you know, threatening to smack them with the brush? - to get them home. By the time they were fourteen they were full-on out on the street, they wouldn't listen to their mother, there was no real authority there, so, um... then... um... they've also very copied each other a lot, um, these three daughters, the youngest one had a baby, and very soon after that the other two went and had babies - you know, like, within six months of each other. And they all had one kid for a long time. But when J. had a...

T: ...child by you...

F: ...child by me, she said, "you watch, my two sisters are going to do the same now", sure enough, within six months they both followed suit and had kids themself.

T: Right.

F: And it seemed to me the other two daughters were into this heroin, and I said to J., "the only reason you're not into it yet is because the you're the youngest, give it a few years until you get to the date where they started, and you probably will as well!". She would always say, "no way! I seen what it does to them". But after we split up, well...

T: So she's obviously in quite a lot of pain, when, after you split up.

F: Yeah, sure.

T: Right. How is she supporting herself? What environment are the children living in?

F: Well, she's got support from child welfare...

T: Child Support Allowance?

F: Yeah... yeah, um...

T: ...or Supplementary Benefit - well, I can't remember what it's called in this country. A supplementary benefit of some kind, 'Family Income Support'.

F: Yeah... yeah...

T: ...a Single Mother's Pension...

F: ...pension! That's the one, yeah, single mother's pension. Plus she gets the maintenance from her first son's father...

T: Yeah. And from you, presumably.

F: Well, I was working, and I was willingly, happily, giving them fifty dollars a week to help my daughter, but J. at one stage got very angry with me, and she said, "I know how I'll get you, I will..." - because when I started saying 'no' to her, she lost this ability over me - so she started, "I know you love your work, I'm going to make you lose your job". She started phoning - I've got letters from my bosses, too - she started phoning the quarry where I was working, and, er, just abusing...

T: So you work as a stonemason?

F: Not mason, um, collecting stone and that...

T: So you're essentially a labourer?

F: Yeah.

T: Essentially working... sorry, a skilled job in its own right, because heaving heavy material is a skilled job.

F: Well, you've got to sort out the stone and break stone, gotta know how to break it down the cracks and that sort of thing. Making bluestone for all houses and that sort of stuff. And er...

T: So she phoned the quarry?

F: ...and just continually abused them and saying she wanted to speak to me. They would say I'm working, and as soon as they hang up she would ring again - ring! ring! They said to me, um... "well, F., what are you going to do about this?" "what can I do?". And then we were taking days off for Family Court and everything else, so...

T: So you did lose your job?

F: Yeah. And then I got a job with a roof-guttering people, and she started phoning them and abusing them. And when he'd said there's lots of work, next I know there's "oh, well, we haven't got any more work". So I said to her, "all you're doing is you're losing fifty dollars each week now, and I'll be on the dole - great...". And I went on the dole. When I was working I applied to a legal company, [named], because I was not getting any access, and they applied for Legal Aid for me, and Legal Aid said, "no, we won't give Legal Aid": for a criminal matter, yes, but for a Family Court matter they don't like to give Legal Aid - not to a man anyway, or very rarely. Er, they...

T: Do you know this?

F: Yeah.

T: ...or is it just a...?

F: No, no, this is...

T: What have you heard of this?

F: Well, J.... well, [legal company] then gave me a ninety-dollar bill because they applied to Legal Aid for me but got turned down, that's a job they done for me, and, um... which I had to pay. When I was on the dole, however, I, I've been denied access for three months by the... after having my daughter every weekend, all of a sudden not have her for three months, before //..//, was very hard for me to handle. After three months I got a friend of mine, a Christian bloke, and I said, "come down with me as a witness, I want to, um..." - what actually happened was I phoned up J. and I said - I'd been away to Canberra for a weekend trip - and, um... I...

[end of first side of tape]

Click here to move to Part 2.