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Bring my Australian grandchildren back from Colombia

This petition had 16,941 supporters

My name is Garry and I am starting this petition with my wife in order to protect our grandchildren. On the 23rd June 2020 our world was turned upside down when a Judge handed down the decision that our three grandchildren would be ripped from their small town home in Theodore, Central Queensland away from their mother and forced to return to Colombia to reside with their father who they have not seen since December 2018.

It has been a very long journey so bear with me while I attempt to summarise it.

Our daughter has three beautiful children, aged 10, 7 and 3 years old. All three children were born in Australia which is where both their parents were born and raised.  She met the father of her children in 2004 and they married in 2010. After the marriage we watched in horror as this man became more and more financially and emotionally controlling. Our daughter was discouraged from communicating with us and we were continually worried for her and our grandchildren's well-being.

The children's father has always traveled for work and as a family they would relocate with him. This meant many moves around Australia before going overseas.

In July 2018 they moved to Colombia for his latest job. They spent four and a half months there before he allowed my daughter to return to Australia with the children for medical treatment. Our daughter has a complex mental health history and it was decided that Australia was the best place for her to get appropriate treatment and have the support of his family. They even organised for the children to be enrolled in school and for a rental property.

In March 2019 when the father withdrew his support we were relieved to welcome our daughter and the children into our home in Theodore and we were able to give them the love, support and care they all needed. You can imagine our absolute horror when after finally having our daughter and grandchildren home and knowing they were safe, our daughter was served with proceedings under the Hague Convention accusing her of abducting the children.

This first went to court late last year and the Judge ruled in our daughter's favour agreeing that the children were at grave risk of psychological harm if returned to Colombia particularly as there is no way our daughter can return to Colombia. She has no supports there, does not speak the language and it would be detrimental to her mental health which incidentally would then be of no benefit for the children.

Their father appealed this decision and won the next hearing. The Judge openly agreed that the children's mental health risks were real but didn’t deem them ‘grave’ enough.

My wife and I have paid for all the legal proceedings and have helped support our daughter and the children while they get back on their feet. We are farmers and have really suffered with the drought and we do not have the resources to continue with another appeal. 

The two eldest children are adamant that they are not going back to Colombia and as for the youngest she has no idea that the man that her siblings talk to is actually her father.  The most time she has ever spent with him was the five months they were in Colombia. 

According to their father he will be taking the children back on the 14th of July 2020. We tried fighting this in the legal system and we just don't have the means to continue. Please help us to keep our grandchildren in Australia where they belong. They are Australians and deserve to grow up in this amazing country.

Garry and Mary-Anne

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