John Stapleton wrote for a variety of Australian publications including The Bulletin and The Financial Review before joining the staff of The Sydney Morning Herald in the mid 1980s. He spent the last 15 years of his journalistic career, until 2009, working as a general news reporter on The Australian. He is the proud father of two teenage children. His work has appeared in several anthologies, including Men Love Sex and Australian Politics. In 2000 he joined a small group of separated dads at 2GLF in western Sydney and helped to found Dads On The Air, now the world's longest running fathers radio program. Over the next nine years he spent many hundreds of hours keeping the then struggling program alive. He is currently living in Bangkok. The show continues to prosper without him. On a visit to Sydney in October 2010 he participated in Dads On The Air's tenth anniversary program, which featured some of its original members and most enduring supporters.
Chaos At The Crossroadsby John Stapleton
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Chaos At The Crossroads tells the story of the long struggle for family law reform in Australia. It also tells the story of the formation of Dads On The Air. What began with a small group of disgruntled separated men in Western Sydney in 2000 has gone on to become the world's longest running and most famous radio program dedicated to issues around fatherhood, regularly interviewing national and international activists, advocates, academics and authors. Its archives now present a fascinating history of the men's and fatherhood movement of the early part of the millennium.
Dads On The Air was strategically placed to cover the push for family law reform in Australia. Despite the founder's intent that shared parenting be the norm for the so-called "helping" court aka The Family Court of Australia, and subsequent legislative attempts to impose shared parenting post separation as the most civilised outcome for separating couples, such was never to be. The Family Court rapidly became a law unto itself, imposing sole mother custody on separating families, despite all the documented harm of this style of custody order, denying fathers contact with their children on the flimsiest of excuses. Overly legalistic, enormously bureaucratic, secretive and unaccountable, defying public norms of decency and probity, it soon became one of the country's most hated institutions. To this day it has remained remarkable resistant to reform and indifferent to the public odium it attracts.
Chaos At The Crossroads concludes: Successive governments from both left and right have failed to listen to their constituents and respond to their concerns. They have resorted to vested inquiries in the hands of the mandarins and publicly funded elites whose feigned attempts to listen to the views of ordinary people have then been heavily reinterpreted. They have delayed progress through the extensive manipulation of committees or other forms of alleged inquiry.These same governments, even when they were enacting legislative reforms, left their enforcement in the hands of institutions notoriously resistant to change. They allowed or encouraged fashionable ideology, institutional inertia and bureaucracy to triumph over common sense. Common decency was lost long ago.
"In terms of human suffering, the Australian public has already paid dearly for the failure to reform outdated, badly administered and inappropriate institutions dealing with family law and child support - and for the failure of governments to take seriously the experiences and voices of the men and women most directly affected by them. The country's failure to reform family law and child support is ultimately a failure of democracy itself."
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