Revue de presse internet : Justice project lawyer tells inquest state could have taken better care of Indigenous teen


Dans le cadre de notre fonction de vous informer, nous publions ci-dessous un éditorial vu sur internet il y a peu. Le sujet est «la justice».

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Sachez que la date de publication est 2023-02-10 01:48:00.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains images and names of people who have died.

The mother of a boy who died while in state care in 2018 has told a coronial inquest into his death that she wants the Department of Community and Justice held accountable for any failures in her son’s care.

George Joseph Charles Campbell’s body was found near parked cars not far from Wallaga Lake Koori Village, a day after he went missing on March 9, 2018.

He was 17.

A coronial inquest held in Batemans Bay Local Court heard the Dunghutti-Tharawal teenager had been in the legal parental custody of what was now the Department of Communities and Justice since the age of seven.

His mother Karen Campbell told the inquest her son meant the world to her.

« I will never hear him tell me he loves me, » she said.

Woman holding picture of her son in front of courthouse
Karen Campbell holds a picture of her son George.(ABC South East NSW: Alasdair Mcdonald)

Ms Campbell told the court she wanted answers, and for the department to be held accountable for any failures in her son’s care.

« I would like to see the department stop taking kids away, » she told the inquest.

The case has drawn the attention of the University of Technology Sydney’s National Justice Project, which supported George’s family during the inquest.

« The inquest heard that there were things that could have been done better in caring for George, listening to the concerns of family and supporting his connections with his family, » project lawyer Karina Hawtrey said.

« It was important that the family were heard directly by the Coroner on the last day of the inquest. »

Ms Campbell told the court the department did not advise her of her son’s death, which an autopsy found had a possible link to substance use, and she instead found out via social media.

Lawyer standing outside of a courthouse holding a picture of a boy
Karina Hawtrey holds a picture of George Campbell.(ABC South East NSW: Alasdair Mcdonald)

University of Sydney emeritus professor of social work and social justice Jude Irwin criticised the fact George had as many as six different caseworkers from the department, each of whom she thought did not spend enough time with him one-on-one to better understand his needs.

She told the court she was of the view his case planning was not transparent, there had been « very little » sharing of information between case workers, and his carers in the last two years of his life did not receive enough support.

She blamed high workloads and poor resourcing, and said that had meant children in and out of home care did not receive the care they required.

She told the court George’s caseworkers should have shown more curiosity in pursuing his alleged substance use.

The inquest heard from a witness who said he reported to the department about his concerns over the teenager’s use of volatile stimulants.

However, a department caseworker told the court he had no case notes suggesting anything about substance use.

Counsel assisting Deputy State Coroner Joan Baptie, Chris McGorey, told the court substance abuse had been the reason for George’s suspension from high school for five days.

The court heard George made two allegations he had been sexually abused during his time in state care, though they were never substantiated.

A caseworker told the court George was referred to sexual assault counselling.

George’s grandmother Lillian Fay Campbell told the court the department should have acted on claims of sexual abuse and drug use.

« George meant everything to me, » she said.

The Coroner’s office will hand down its findings on June 9 at Batemans Bay Local Court.

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