A Canberra mother who said she could smack her children if the mark did not last more than a day was sentenced on Tuesday for assaulting her daughter.
The Kambah woman, who cannot be named because it would identify her children, was charged with assaulting the seven-year-old after the girl called triple-o.
A magistrate has ordered the woman complete 200 hours of community service for the crime.
A statement of facts tendered to court said police received three triple-o calls from the house on December 2 last year.
In one call, the girl said she had been left alone at home with her brothers.
In the second, she said a brother had called triple-o. In the third, she said the brother had called again and that she could not wake her parents because they were asleep.
When police arrived to check on the family the girl said her mum had smacked her on the shoulder and back that morning.
Police saw a red mark the size of a tennis ball on her shoulder and a red mark about 15 centimetres in length on her lower back.
The girl’s father told police they had problems with the girl coming out of her room at night and getting her brother to watch cartoons.
The mother, 30, yelled at police, “I can smack my f—ing kids if I want to as long as the mark doesn’t last for 24 hours,” the documents say.
Speaking to police later, the girl said her mother smacked her several times that day and that she was “scaring her” by saying she would go to foster care.
The woman later pleaded guilty to a count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
At a sentencing in the ACT Magistrates Court, the woman’s defence lawyer said the guilty plea meant the daughter would not have to give evidence at a hearing.
The lawyer said the woman was a victim of domestic violence, and every time she had tried to leave the violent relationship the man threatened to “hunt her down and kill her.”
She said the mother eventually escaped the relationship and her mental health was now reported to be stable.
She said the incident had gone further than the woman intended but emphasised that the children were all safe.
But the prosecutor objected to the characterisation of the incident as one instance.
He said there was no victim more vulnerable than a child and the woman had fundamentally breached her children’s trust.
He said that the woman was a victim cut both ways, as she would be acutely aware of the impact of violence.
The prosecutor told the court the children have been removed from their parent’s care and were blossoming.
In sentencing the woman, Magistrate Bernadette Boss said the assault was a significant one on a much smaller child and a significant breach of trust.
She said children were the most vulnerable part of the community and everyone, including the court, had a responsibility to protect them.
She said it was “deeply troubling” the woman thought she had the right to assault her children.
Dr Boss sentenced the woman to 200 hours of community service and placed her on a two year good behaviour order.