"Belmont Baby Death"
- Category: Child abuse industry deaths in NSW
- Created: Wednesday, 01 December 2010 23:30
- Written by Alecomm2
Ms PRU GOWARD: I direct my question to the Minister for Community Services. Will the Minister commit today to having the case involving the death of a baby in Belmont in December 2007 re-investigated, after revelations that a whistleblower, a caseworker from the Department of Community Services, had submitted a warning report recommending an urgent risk assessment of the family but that was never passed to police or the Child Death Review Team? Given his report could have significantly changed the then murder investigation, will the Minister have the case re-investigated? Or, will the Minister cover it up? I have his affidavits if the Minister would like access.
Ms LINDA BURNEY: This is a terribly sad case that occurred three years ago. I ask members to listen carefully, in particular the member for Goulburn. Despite investigations by the Coroner and the New South Wales Ombudsman, the cause of death could not be determined and the baby may have been still born. In fact, this little baby probably never took a breath. I will repeat this just to make it absolutely clear.
The SPEAKER: Order! Members will listen to the Minister in silence.
Ms LINDA BURNEY: Separate investigations by the Coroner, the police and the Ombudsman have been carried out and not one of those experts or professionals has ever identified any grounds to substantiate a charge of murder—
The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.
Ms LINDA BURNEY: —or found any basis to support the allegations of a cover-up.
Mr Barry O'Farrell: He does not have access to the case worker.
Ms LINDA BURNEY: If you can just hold your tongue for one minute, you will find out.
The SPEAKER: Order! A question has been asked on a serious matter and the Minister is giving her answer. I again ask members to listen to the Minister in silence.
Ms LINDA BURNEY: How utterly irresponsible of the member for Goulburn to start smearing a family with the gravest of possible charges, all without a shred of evidence to support such a charge. The member for Goulburn evidently launched this crusade against this family not only without evidence but also without any thought of what those kinds of allegations do to the other children in the family. They do not deserve this. I know from some of the letters I have received from the member for Goulburn that she fancies herself as a bit of a social worker. She now seems to think she is also a judge and a jury.
Ms Pru Goward: Point of order: Standing Order 129—it was a very direct question: Will the Minister re-investigate the matter?
The SPEAKER: Order! Members will come to order. The Minister's response is clearly relevant to the question.
Ms LINDA BURNEY: The allegations of a cover-up in this matter are simply absurd. Community Services conducted an internal review to examine whether there was anything the agency could learn from this case because there are always things we can learn, or might do differently with the benefit of hindsight. We recognise that and that is exactly why a review of this case was conducted. The Opposition knows all of that because it has a copy of the review report. The Opposition requested information under freedom of information and it was provided. The Opposition also asked questions on notice, which were answered. So where is the cover up? Where is the secrecy? The internal review focused on the way the case was managed prior to the tragedy. Community Services was never made aware of the pregnancy, nor received any reports about the existence of the unborn baby, until the discovery of the body. The mother in question kept her pregnancy to herself.
All information about this case, including findings of the Coroner and police were provided to the Child Death Review Team. Furthermore, all of the Community Services information about this family was provided to the Special Commission of Inquiry. Where is the cover up? It would be laughable if it were not so horrifying to think that the member for Goulburn is holding herself up as ready to take on the responsibility of the Community Services portfolio. Families in New South Wales be warned! I am aware that the employee of Community Services was quoted in a media report. I am concerned about confidentiality. The investigation of that staff member had nothing to do with this case. This matter was completely unrelated to the death of the baby in Belmont. Any allegation of that kind is serious and an investigation was undertaken. The findings of that investigation led to disciplinary action, which was eventually settled in the Industrial Relations Commission. (Source : http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LA20101201015?open&refNavID=HA8_1)