Robert Clarke’s Update

My deepest thanks to everyone who has signed my petition and supported my campaign to “Help Bring My Children Home”. I apologise that it’s been some time since we have provided you with an update.


With the Global COVID-19 Pandemic closing international borders and the Colombian judicial system shutting, there were significant delays with my appeal with the Judge ultimately dismissing the appeal in late 2021 and opting to not to follow The Hague Convention and return Benny and Lucia to Australia. I discovered the appeal hearing had occurred after the fact, without being notified by either the Court or my lawyer.

Ultimately, my only chance at appeal was lost.


As soon as international borders reopened in December 2021, I returned to Ipiales Colombia to try to rekindle my relationship with my children. This was a difficult move on many fronts, especially without any on-the-ground support network. However, after three years of not seeing my Children, I felt this was the best outcome for them, given the circumstances.

Halloween 2022 – Rob, Benny & Lucia

Over the past 18 months I’ve slowly been able to spend more time with my Children, and while it has been a struggle, I’m glad for the opportunity. Many, many others who experience the same situation I did never get the opportunity to be involved in their children’s lives. Sadly, many are cut off completely.

So, while this current arrangement is less than perfect, I am again part of my children’s lives and I’m forging amazing bonds with them. I’ve started my own international education business and have been creating a home and life for my children here in Colombia. It’s not ideal, but I now have the chance to be their Dad, and be part of their lives which is my number one priority.

What I have learnt since being in Colombia is that I never had a chance at having Benny and Lucia returned to Australia. This is due to my initial legal approach and the intrinsic cultural differences surrounding family values and priorities and their subsequent legal weight in determining custody. For example, in Australia, being financially responsible with a stable job and income is viewed as being able to provide a stable environment for children. However, in Colombia this has had the opposite effect with my presentation of a stable job viewed as being unable to provide the best care to my children because I’d be working and reliant on family or paid support for childcare.

2023 – Rob with Benny & Lucia

Since relocating to Colombia, I’ve learnt that the (last minute) legal representation I had and the legal strategy, recommendations and tactics employed ultimately hindered my case and hurt the possibility of having my children returned home to me and my family. I believe the Lawyer took our money effectively gave me and my family false hope and used the high profile of my case and campaign to gain more business. I would have been better positioned should I had employed a different legal strategy locally in Colombia. We sourced my lawyer via the US State Department list of attorneys for Colombia. He is no longer listed. I have also learnt the Judge who heard my case, is no longer a Family Court Judge. The reasons for both I don’t know.

Through my work I have met a former Colombian Family Court Judge who was familiar with my case. He advised there is recourse to retry my case because of the errors made by the Judge and my Lawyer. However, while this is an option, emotionally I am not equipped to do this nor am I prepared to lose the current contact I have with Benny and Lucia if I were to recommence legal action. Also given the length of time that has passed, there is a minimal chance of getting a different outcome as both children are now settled here. I’ve also learnt that while a signatory, Colombia rarely follows The Hague Convention with the majority of children never returned to their habitual country of birth. Retrying my case would take precious time away from my children and cause great emotional stress – while being unlikely to yield a different result.

What I have been told is my case was flawed from the start because we argued from an Australian perspective. I would have been better served having a local lawyer involved from the outset; something the Australian authorities told me wasn’t required. In my view, a local Colombian lawyer is a necessity, as the Colombian’s see a situation like this as a typical family court battle. So, by not engaging a qualified local family law lawyer, and relying solely on the standard Australian process and recommendations, I hindered my chances of having my kids returned.


Benny’s 8th Birthday – 2023

While I can’t change my own situation, I am much better positioned to help other Australians in similar circumstances. I want my experiences to have greater value and with that I am one of the founders of Advocacy Australia, a registered Australian charity founded to deliver benefits to society by advancing human rights.

Advocacy Australia provides a voice for Australian individuals and groups whose human rights have or are at risk of being compromised in the areas of health and wellbeing; social justice, as a result of serious crimes and for families like mine who are the victims of international familial child abduction. I am also the Founding Chair of the International Familial Child Abduction Advisory Committee (IFCAAC) and I’m currently developing support mechanisms for parents like me who are facing international custody disputes so they can have the vital support they need and get accurate advice about how this highly complex process works.

Currently Advocacy Australia is unfunded and we invite you to support this work and consider making a tax-deductible donation this end-of-financial year to help me help others struggling the heartbreaking loss of having their children abducted overseas by a family member.

If you would like more information on Advocacy Australia visit and if you would like more information about IFCAAC please contact me via

If you are able help us in our mission to help families like mine, please make a donation here

The Heartbreak Continues: Benny Clarke’s Second Birthday Without His Daddy

Today, hearts are breaking in Melbourne and Colombia as little Benny Clarke marks his 5th Birthday without his Daddy and sadly, the second of Benny’s birthdays that this loving father and son have spent apart. Today, on Benny’s special day, there will be no hugs and kisses from his Daddy. There will be no gifts of Superhero toys for Benny to open – no laughter and no games. Today there will be no contact between a loving father and his son because Benny and his baby sister have been abducted and are being illegally retained in the home of their maternal grandmother, a convicted criminal who is serving 4 years home detention in Ipiales on the border of Colombia and Ecuador where corruption, crime and violence is rife.


Today also marks 409 heartbreaking days that Robert and his precious children have been wrongfully separated.  But the pain Robert and his family in Melbourne feels is greater than grief – they hold grave fears for the safety of their precious children who are currently being illegally retained in a country where violence is the second highest cause of death.  According to data released by the WHO in 2017, Colombia is ranked 5th in the world for violent deaths having had 23,530 violent deaths compared to Australia’s 224.


To protect Benny and Lucia from harm we need to bring them home as soon as possible.  Thanks to your incredible support, Robert’s petition to the President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez has gained more than 28,000 signatures! But we need more….


Today on Benny’s 5th Birthday when many are at home in social isolation, please give little Benny the best birthday gift ever by continuing your support to reunite Benny with his Daddy in Australia.  Today, please reach out to your family, friends and colleagues and ask them to show they care by signing and sharing the petition so that when the Covid-19 travel bans lift, together we can help bring Benny and Lucia home to the country of their birth where they will be loved and safe from harm.


A special thank you to all 16,000 of you who have signed our petition. It has been heart-warming to experience such an overwhelming show of support from across Australia and around the world including many Colombians who are outraged by this blatant injustice. What has been surprising, shocking and somewhat consoling, is I am not alone in my quest for justice. We have been contacted by a large number of parents and families in similar circumstances to me and my family. It is heartbreaking to think the Hague Convention is being ignored by many countries.


It is with enormous gratitude I would like to thank Alysia Thomas-Sam and Tineka Everaardt from A Current Affair, Tessa Akerman from The Australian and also The Daily Mail for sharing my story to help bolster support and signatures on my petition.

If you missed the stories please watch and share from:

  • A Current Affair – Kidnapped – Producer: Alysia Thomas-Sam Reporter: Tineka Everaardt
  • The Australian – Father in battle to bring kids home from Colombia by Tessa Akerman
  • The Daily Mail – Heartbroken Aussie father’s Colombian family holiday turns into a nightmare when his wife leaves him, ‘takes the kids’ and refuses to return from overseas – and he hasn’t seen them since.

Don’t forget to like our Facebook Page, Follow our Instagram Page and Subscribe to our Youtube channel. The fight is ongoing and my family still needs all the support we can get.

My heartfelt thanks to you all.



On Friday 24 January 2020, Robert Clarke and his Australian family will launch an international media and social media campaign calling for public support to help rescue Benny and Lucia Clarke from illegal retention in Colombia.

The campaign will draw attention to the Colombia’s failure to uphold the fundamental principles of the Hague Convention and call on people to add their voice by signing the petition addressed to the President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, asking him to honour Colombia’s commitment to the Hague Convention and “Help bring these two precious little Australians home!”

The campaign will be generated by the international-award-winning Australian Public Relations Agency, Insight Communications known for conducting media and social media campaigns including the award-winning Where’s William? (Tyrrell) campaign that raised national and international awareness of abducted Australian toddler, William Tyrrell (the little boy in the Spiderman suit).

The aim of the Clarke Family’s “Help Bring My Children Home” campaign is to attract global media attentionon the illegal abduction and retention of Benny and Lucia Clarke under The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. A key focus of the campaign will be to draw international attention to the failure on the part of the Colombian Government to honour their agreement under The Hague Convention and publicly reveal the harm being caused to young Benny and Lucia as a result of Colombia’s non-compliance.