THE horrific deaths of four young teenagers in a Townsville car crash early Sunday morning will be the subject of a lengthy, painful investigative process but a few important claims – it is too early to call them facts – have already been published. One is potentially scandalous: the Courier Mail and the Townsville Bulletin reported last night that certain of the children were in the “care” of the Department of Child Safety. I take this to mean they were known to the department rather than that they were residential wards. Edward Seaton, a cousin of one victim, said yesterday the accident could have been avoided had parents of the deceased intervened. The implications of that – and the purported involvement of DOCS – are extremely serious.
The four were thrill-riding around Townsville in an allegedly stolen vehicle before the 14 year-old driver lost control and smashed into a pole in Garbutt at around 4.30am. He alone survived and was this morning charged with dangerous driving causing death and several other drugs and stealing offences. Police were made aware of two vehicles being driven dangerously and at high speed in the city’s streets but were not chasing either when the tragedy occurred. The Ethical Standards Command is overseeing the investigation – which may indicate the case is likely to be culturally and politically sensitive.
Is “stolen generations” dogma more important than rescuing children?
I wrote about the killing of toddler Mason Lee here last Wednesday. The Townsville horror – and the possible involvement of Child Safety bureaucrats – arouses my attention for two reasons. First, the above-mentioned Mr Seaton is indigenous which means at least one victim – his cousin – probably is too. Second, on Saturday – the day before the fatal crash – the ABC reported extraordinarily defiant criticisms by “child protection advocates” of the pro-adoption stance in Deputy state coroner Jane Bentley’s official findings in the Mason Lee case. You’d think the woodshed paddling Magistrate Bentley doled out to a negligent DOCS and her exasperated references to the state’s tardiness in formalising recourse to adoption (already recommended by the Carmody commission in 2013) would be emphatically chastening; further, that the recommendations she made to safeguard children would be sacrosanct – especially given the torturous death of baby Mason. But you’d be wrong. PeakCare (yes, really) executive director Lindsay Wegener rejected a key role for adoption:
Four families in Townsville now have a more than egg-headed academic understanding of what disruption and disconnection are really like. Four teenagers are dead. There are few details surrounding the victims and their circumstances known for certain at this time. However, if those initial reports of DOCS involvement – either in loco parentis or even as case overseers – prove to be true, questions must be asked about why four minors had the night-time liberty to be tearing around in a stolen car in which all but one died horribly yesterday morning. If one or more of them were left in pseudo-familial situations because of a “stolen generations” mentality, the buck should stop with no less a figure than the Premier herself.