“Parental alienation” and family courts: A conversation on research and practice - Hosted by NZFVC - Auckland - 20 Mar 2018

When: Tuesday 20 March 2018, 10-11.30am.

Where: Room 732-201, Tāmaki Campus, University of Auckland, Gate 1, 261 Morrin Road, St Johns, Auckland.

Hosted by the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse

Free. Register now

Visitor parking available on campus. Close to Glen Innes Train station, see AT.govt.nz for public transport information. Download Tāmaki Campus map

Accessible venue. Please let us know if you have any accessibility requirements.

The New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse is pleased to invite you to a panel discussion on “parental alienation” and family courts.


Professor Elizabeth Sheehy from the University of Ottawa is a Distinguished Visitor at the University of Auckland. She is an international expert on violence against women and women’s use of violence and the author of the award-winning book Defending Battered Women on Trial: Lessons from the Transcripts. In 2017 she received the Persons Award from the Governor General of Canada and, in 2018, the Order of Ontario from the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario for her advocacy for women’s equality in the criminal justice context over the course of her long and distinguished career.

Professor Sheehy will share her research results from examining how “parental alienation” is claimed and adjudicated in family court cases across Canada 2008-2017. She will focus on how allegations of family violence and parental alienation intersect and the implications for women escaping male violence

Deborah Mackenzie has worked for many years trying to improve New Zealand's system response to violence against women and children. She has worked in advocate roles and policy positions both in NGOs and within Government. Deborah has a special interest in the justice sector response to women survivors. Deborah has significant experience as a trainer, presenter and media commentator. She has a Master of Arts (Hons).

Deborah is a co-founder of the Backbone Collective which was launched in 2017 to enable women who have experienced violence and abuse to have their voices heard. Deborah will share what women have told the Backbone Collective about how “parental alienation” is being used against protective mothers in the New Zealand Family Court.

Catriona MacLennan

Catriona MacLennan is a barrister, journalist and researcher. She worked in the Press Gallery for six years as a political reporter and practised law in South Auckland for 14 years. Catriona worked extensively in family and domestic violence and has for the past 20 years advocated publicly and politically for action to eliminate domestic and sexual violence. Catriona helped set up Ngā Ture Kaitiaki ki Waikato Community Law Centre and was the Project Director for Ngā Tāngata Microfinance Trust. She is the founder of Wheels for Women, a project to provide cars to domestic violence survivors.

Catriona will examine recent New Zealand High and Family Court cases referring to “parental alienation.” She will also speak about how the use of “parental alienation” is undermining attempts to tackle this country’s domestic violence epidemic.

Chair: Professor Julia Tolmie, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland

Please note Ruth Herbert is unable to present due to illness - Deborah Mackenzie is presenting in her place.

Please register