Please see my Letter to the Editor of The Age newspaper today, as well as the article it refers to below it.
Vital piece of information
Your article "Mother pleads for return of missing children" (02 May 2007) fails to include a vital piece of information: Did the relationship between the parents breakdown in Brisbane, or the Blue Mountains / Sydney, (or elsewhere)? Crises like these arise when the Family Court allows the Mum to move away from the Dad, which thankfully is happening less frequently but is still a serious problem.
They also arise because the Federal Government continues to shy away from implementing a Presumption of Equal Parenting Time in the Family Court system.
Mother pleads for return of missing children
The Age May 2, 2007
PHILIPPA Yelland knew something was wrong when her three children weren't waiting at the school gate as usual on a Monday afternoon in March. And when told the children hadn't turned up at the Eagle Junction State School in Brisbane that day, Ms Yelland knew: "Oh my God, he hasn't returned them."
Bokkie, 10, Matilda, 9, and Barney, 7, had spent the weekend with their father, Murray Robertson, at his home in the Blue Mountains town of Hazelbrook. Under arrangements put in place after Ms Yelland and Mr Robertson separated, the children visited their father every third and sixth weekend.
Ms Yelland has not seen or spoken to her children since she dropped them off at school on March 16 before that scheduled weekend with their father. Yesterday, the distraught mother made a plea for help in finding her children, who are thought to still be with Mr Robertson.
Ms Yelland implored her ex-husband: "Please return the children safely to me. Everyone misses them." Asked what message she wanted to send to her children, she said: "I love them very much and I look forward to them coming home."
Ms Yelland, a freelance journalist, has been unable to contact her ex-husband, who has had his mobile phone switched off since the weekend the children went missing. "They've disappeared, literally," she said.
Ms Yelland said she yearned for her children and the day they return home. "I just miss them. Their joyousness, their unending enthusiasm. They are the most glorious children. The place is dead without them."
For now she takes comfort from prayer. "I believe God will keep them safe," she said. "I just pray they will be brought home safely. What else can you do?"
She has kept busy helping family and friends with chores. "There is a great benefit in constant activity," she said.
Although their marriage ended acrimoniously in divorce 18 months ago, Ms Yelland said she had no inkling her former husband would run off with the children. "This was out of the blue, completely."
The Family Court of Australia has authorised the Australian Federal Police, state and territory police forces and the marshal of the court to locate the Robertson children. It has allowed the names of the children and their father to be publicised in an effort to find them.