Event Report: FRC Training Webinar – International Parental Child Abduction

Date: 24 November 2021 Time: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM AEDT Venue: YouTube Live via ZOOM Speaker: Kay Hardefeldt & Jenny Tam

About the Presenters:

Kay Hardefeldt is the Manager of International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA) Social Work service and the International Family Mediation (IFM) team. She has worked for ISS Australia since 2010 and is committed to reducing barriers associated with cross border social work and family mediation services

Jenny Tam is the Principal Lawyer of ISS Australia’s Victorian office. Since 2014, she has worked as a family lawyer within the community legal sector to support parents through difficult legal processes.


On 24 November 2021, the Family Law Pathways Network, in collaboration with International Social Services (ISS) Australia, presented a webinar detailing the work that ISS Australia does and, more specifically, International parental child abduction, including how to recognise it, remedies under the 1980 Hague Convention and legal and social work offered to families experiencing it.

ISS Australia has partners overseas across an international network called the global ISS network. ISS Australia provides intercountry social work and legal services for children and families separated by international borders. Apart from International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA) and International Family Mediation (IFM), ISS offers other services, such as International Child Welfare, International Kinship Care, International Post Adoption Tracing Service (IPATS) and Special Search Service (SSS). With regard to Welfare and Kinship, some countries may not have a functioning child protection service like in Australia. An example of where the International Post Adoption Tracing Service is use is where someone born and adopted in UK and immigrated to Australia with adopting parents and wants to trace their biological parents overseas.

Jenny spoke about the legal aspects of IPCA and that it entails a parent taking or keeping a child overseas without the other parent’s permission, or permission from a court. 'Removal' is where a child is taken out of the country without the other parent’s consent or knowledge or both (and there was no court order permitting this). For example, a 'left behind' parent may receive a text message saying that the other parent has kids and they are not returning to Australia. This is different from 'Retention', where there is a child travelling overseas, sometimes as a family or with one parent. The ‘taking parent’ unilaterally decides not to return the child to Australia. Common characteristics of situations where IPCA occurs is where:

  • one or both parents has dual nationality,

  • there are young children involved,

  • taking a parent – mother or primary caregiver,

  • the family has few supports in Australia,

  • they have extended family overseas in country of origin,