60 Minutes: surprises from the Italian-Australian custody parents.

The girls with their mother, Laura

I sat down to watch last night’s 60 Minutes’ interview with both parents at the centre of the Italian custody battle over their four daughters not knowing who to believe. I came out the other side with two thoughts:

1. What a mess. There are no winners in family court disputes.

2. Tara Brown kicked some serious arse.

Tara Brown, outstanding.

In more polite terms, Tara Brown delivered one of the strongest interviews of the year, making her distaste for the emotional, mental and physical manipulation of the four young girls clearly felt. Particularly towards the girls’ mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

Some parts of Tara’s interview with the girls’ mother Laura were a train wreck as their grandmother and great grandmother constantly interrupted Laura whose demenour was…..unusual. The two older women frequently tried to speak for her and justify some of their own shameful behaviour as the situation has disintegrated over the past few years, coming to an ugly head when the girls were forcibly put on a plane back to Italy several months ago.

If you haven’t seen the 60 Minutes’ interview, you can see it here.

And there were some fairly incredible revelations. From the 60 Minutes website:

The girls’ father Thomasso

It’s been the most public and bitter of family feuds – two parents, four children split across the world and splashed all over the media.

The story begins with a desperate escape. Mum, Laura, flees Italy and her allegedly violent Italian husband, to return home with the couple’s four daughters.

Two years later, the Australian Federal Police arrive on the doorstep and literally drag the children onto a plane back to Italy.

60 Minutes put several questions to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). These were how they answered them (also from the 60 Minutes website):

So what did I come away with? Many shades of grey. It was certainly illuminating to see the father give his side of the story and to see both parents portrayed as human, instead of the pixilated non-identities they have been up until now.

I understand that a technicality – purported to be the fact that this custody case is the jurisdiction of the Italian family court – was used to allow 60 Minutes (and some print media) to circumvent the usual strict laws which prohibit the identification of anyone involved in a family court dispute.

To me – and my opinion is based on nothing more than what I saw last night and what I’ve picked up about the case having followed it over the past year or so – there are no winners but many questions and no simple answers.

However for a story so complex (journo nerd moment here), I think it was magnificently, sensitivitely and smartly told. Props to Tara Brown and producers Gareth Harvey and Steven Burling

Did you see the story? What did you come away thinking?