Client charged with multiple violent offences against his 15-year-old daughter including Making a Threat to Kill, Recklessly Causing Injury, and Assault. Dandenong Magistrates Court.
The client was an Afghani male. He and his wife had been having difficulty disciplining their 15-year-old daughter. On the evening in question the daughter became angry at her parents and threw a cup of tea at the client’s head. With the mother’s approval he disciplined her by striking her on the legs with the cable of a mobile phone charger.
A teacher at the daughter’s school noticed her injuries and contacted police. The client was remanded in custody. The police sought an intervention order preventing him from returning to the home.
Although the family had lived in Australia for 12 years the parents spoke very limited English. They had little understanding of the legal differences between Afghanistan and Australia with respect to child discipline.
The daughter was distraught that her father had been remanded. The mother and client considered her partly responsible for what happened.
The client was originally represented by Victorian Legal Aid (VLA). No application for bail was made as the client apparently refused to cooperate with his representative. What actually happened was that the interpreters organised by the police and court did not speak the client’s language, and so the client’s instructions were misunderstood.
When we became involved in the matter the client had spent over a week in custody. We arranged for the correct interpreter to attend court and subsequently negotiated the charges with the prosecution. The Threat to Kill charges were withdrawn on the basis that the admissions previously made by the client were unusable due to the translation difficulties.
We successfully argued that the client should be released on bail. One of the conditions of bail was that he engage with Southern Migrant Centre for the purpose of parental skills counselling.
When the matter returned to court the client had become fully aware of his obligations under Australian law. He was very remorseful and indicated that he would discipline his children according to the law as he now understood it.
We successfully argued that the matter should be finalised by way of a good behaviour bond. There was a condition that the client engage with a local counsellor who would help him to set up a pilot program aimed at assisting Afghan families integrate and understand legal and cultural differences between Afghanistan and Australia.
This outcome enabled the family to move on from this traumatic incident and also paved the way for development of a program aimed at assisting other families facing similar confusion.