Grieving dad pushes for law change
THE father of four children murdered in Margaret River in May hasn't been able to look at photos of them since they died at the hands of his former father-in-law.
Aaron Cockman caught his first flight in 16 years to come to Canberra to convince politicians of the potentially devastating consequences of Australia's approach to family separation.
"The whole situation just snowballed out of control as soon as the lawyers got involved," Mr Cockman told reporters.
"If the lawyers weren't involved at all, things would have been so different."
Mr Cockman said even after separating, he and his ex-wife were still hanging out and going to dinner with the kids, until the lawyers got involved.
Mr Cockman's estranged father-in-law Peter Miles, 61, shot dead his family at their farm near Margaret River in Western Australia.
The victims were Mr Cockman's wife Katrina, 35, and their four children: daughter Taye, 13, and sons Rylan, 12, Arye, 10, and Kadyn, eight.
Miles also killed his wife Cynda, 58, before turning the gun on himself.
Mr Cockman will meet with people on the government and opposition frontbench as part of a campaign by advocacy group For Kids Sake, calling for Family Court reform.
"I'm finding myself not coping at all really. This is the only thing I've got to live for. Even working as a carpenter is not enough," Mr Cockman said.
"If I can see another child see their other parent again that would make such a difference to me. That would give me something to live for."
A child is killed every 14 days by a parent or close relative in Australia.
"The common denominator for that is ongoing Family Court proceedings," said For Kids Sake chief executive David Curl.
"We're after nothing less than a paradigm shift in how we deal with family separation."
They want the focus of family separation to fall under the ambit of the health ministry, rather than the attorney-general's department.
Earlier intervention than the Family Court, proper arbitration, better mediation and increased support for families under pressure are all on their wish list.
Mr Cockman said his former father-in-law, Peter Miles, was funding his ex-wife's legal fees, and the sustained pressure of this over years led to his brutal act.
"He was just worn down where he got to the point where he couldn't cope anymore," Mr Cockman said.
"He didn't want me to have kids. There's so much hatred there."
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