[WATCH] Government plans reforms to address parental alienation issue, Abela reveals

Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela announces government's intent to reform laws addressing parental alienation, citing concerns over its impact on families

Prime Minister Robert Abela addressing party supporters in Qawra on Sunday morning. (Photo: Labour Party)
Prime Minister Robert Abela addressing party supporters in Qawra on Sunday morning. (Photo: Labour Party)

The Maltese government is considering a bill to reform parental alienation, Prime Minister Robert Abela revealed on Sunday.

“We will have different opinions, but this is a reality that begs to be tackled… this is the reality,” Abela said.

Addressing party supporters in Qawra, Robert Abela explained how the last bill on the matter was passed years ago.

“It was not a bad reform, but it was not ambitious enough,” Abela added.

Parental alienation is defined as the phenomenon where a child becomes distant from one parent due to the psychological manipulation exerted by the other parent.

This commonly arises during custody disputes following parental separation.

Research indicates that this can lead to the child feeling estranged and exhibiting emotions such as fear, disrespect, or hostility towards the parent they are separated from, which may also extend to other family members or individuals involved.

Abela said that every year, Malta faces around 1,400 mediation letters, with most of them being new cases.

He said that the matter affects not only parents and children but also grandparents. Abela asked whether just like parents suffer from being alienated from their children, so do grandparents when there is a fallout in the family.

This is why, Abela said, the government will be opening a public consultation on parental alienation, “to learn, to listen, and then decide accordingly.”

The Labour leader stressed the importance of continuing the government's work, particularly with a focus on significant reforms within the family court system once the new legislative year commences.

Highlighting the impact on families facing various challenges, the Prime Minister, Robert Abela, emphasised the holistic nature of quality of life, encompassing not just work, education, and services, but also interpersonal relationships.

"We envision a nation that provides greater and enhanced support to families navigating hardships, where challenges are minimised rather than exacerbated," Abela said.

He outlined the 'Malta Flimkien' manifesto's guidance, which includes measures addressing parental alienation, delays in separation cases, and bolstering mediation efforts.

Abela acknowledges further steps required in mental health sector

This week, the Nationalist Party criticised the government's decision to abandon plans for constructing a new psychiatric hospital. 

A few days later, several PN branches promptly condemned the government for what they labelled a "broken electoral promise."

PN lamented that despite years of assurances to build the new hospital, the government has now confirmed its intention to allocate only one unit in a new facility.

Responding to the criticism, Robert Abela referred to his recent visit to Malta’s mental hospital, Mount Carmel, emphasising the need for more action in the sector while expressing appreciation for the professionals and nurses. He highlighted the necessity of continuing successful community-based initiatives to reduce hospitalisation rates.

"The introduction of a new service involving nurses and psychiatrists in the community has resulted in fewer hospital admissions. Nine out of ten individuals who utilised this service avoided hospitalisation," explained the Prime Minister.

Abela further underscored the importance of Malta enhancing and modernising its infrastructure to provide necessary care for individuals requiring hospitalisation.