A controversial guest speaker has been uninvited from an upcoming Wagga Men's Health Week forum after several sponsors withdrew their endorsement of the event.
The Men's Health Tool Box meeting came under fire for hosting Clarrie Holden, the founder of Father's Rights Australia and a vocal critic of the family law system.
Mr Holden is running a class action lawsuit on behalf of the male "victims" of the Family Court and is campaigning to abolish Domestic Violence Orders, which he believes are biased against men.
Mr Holden declined to comment to The Daily Advertiser, however he outlines his beliefs in a video on his website entitled "DVO's Unjust and Wrong!"
"According to anyone who wants to whack a DVO on Tom, Dick, or Harry it's guilty until proven innocent; what a load of rubbish," Mr Holden said.
The mental health forum was being run by Men Talking with Men founder Gary Witt with the "support" of Wagga City Council, Murrumbidgee Local Health District, GIO, and Centacare.
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However, Centacare's Wagga manager Geoff McLean said he had not been aware of Mr Holden's views at the time and was reconsidering his association with Men Talking with Men.
"I think I would have to definitely reconsider any partnership going forwards," Mr McLean said.
An MLHD spokesperson said they had no "formal sponsorship" arrangement for the event and had asked the organisers to remove the MLHD logo from all their posters and advertisements.
"Murrumbidgee Local Health District has not made any contribution to the event and has requested that the organisers remove Murrumbidgee Local Health District from all advertising materials," the spokeperson said.
A GIO spokesperson said they had not known of Mr Holden's involvement when they agreed to sponsor the event.
"At the time of sponsoring, GIO wasn't aware of the speakers involved and we're in discussion with the organisers about next steps," the spokesperson said.
In May, Wagga City Council approved a $2274 COVID-19 Fast Track Sponsorship for the event, however a council spokesperson said the forum also featured other speakers.
"The funding application received by Wagga Wagga City Council detailed a diversity of speakers," the spokesman said.
Mr Witt said he was well aware that Mr Holden had drawn criticism from "feminists" and "the left", but that the sponsors had been told he was coming months in advance.
"They had a list of the people, it was their prerogative to do their probity. If no one did their probity, that's not my problem," Mr Witt said.
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