The Northern Territory news Sat 23 Jan 2010
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www.ntnews.com.au Northern Territory News, Saturday, January 23, 2010 35 P U B : N T N E W S D A T E : 2 3 -J A N -2 0 1 0 P A G E : 3 5 C O L O R : K Have you served in the ADF after July 2004? The Australian Government is reviewing military rehabilitation and compensation arrangements to ensure they meet current and future needs of todays service personnel. Public Meeting Have your say. Thursday, 4 February 2010 Crowne Plaza Darwin, 32 Mitchell Street, Signatures Room 2.00pm - 5.00pm For Terms of Reference and submissions follow the links at www.dva.gov.au adcorp20147 e r3 0 0 6 1 2 in outdated system AGONY: Lyn Melville talks to the media after findings from a coronial inquest into the death of her daughter Deborah were handed down on Tuesday This unfortunate girl who was near death at that stage, lay on her back onthe dirt near a trailer in the back yard for the next eight hours until she suffered a cardiac arrest The children changed address after a fire. The new house in Palmerston was even more cramped and 10 people slept in the lounge room. Some FACS workers now and again registered concern, but they were never in their jobs long. The Melville children were forgotten. It fell to Deborah, at the age of 10 or 11, to cook for her younger siblings of a night. Ms Reynolds was at the casino. The doctor who performed Deborahs autopsy found she died of blood poisoning from a bone infection. Her leg had basically rotted away effectively from the buttocks down to the knee joint. The coroner said that he found about 1500mls of pus in her left thigh, an amount he described as extraordinary. Deborahs organs slowly gave up on her. The coroner said neither Ms Reynolds nor Toni Melville, another great aunt who was also living at the address, were malicious in not taking Deborah to the doctor. But they just did not think of Deborahs needs. They didnt care. Deborah could no longer walk unsupported. She began to urinate and defecate in her own clothing. FACS workers visited the day before Deborah died. They found her lying on the kitchen floor. One worker told the inquest that she believed the reason for Deborahs distress was she thought the workers were going to take her away from Ms Reynolds. The following day, Ms Reynolds and her son put Deborah in the back yard. The coroner heard Ms Reynolds instructed Deborahs brothers and sisters not to give her food or drink. Why Ms Reynolds ordered this final act of cruelty is not clear. This unfortunate girl, said the coroner, who was near death at that stage, lay on her back on the dirt near a trailer in the back yard for the next eight hours until she suffered a cardiac arrest. Ms Reynolds and Ms Melville, the great aunts, were charged with manslaughter but acquitted in February last year. Mr Cavanagh said yesterday that Ms Reynolds had almost completely abandoned her legal and moral responsibilities as a carer for Deborah Melville. He added that serious failures by FACS contributed to the death of Deborah Melville because they permitted that deplorable neglect by her carer Denise Reynolds to occur. The coroners recommendations are largely to ensure better monitoring of children by FACS. He made no recommendations on the policy of placing indigenous children with indigenous kin, but noted that the four surviving Melville children had been placed with a woman who is neither Aboriginal nor related to the children. He said they were happy kids. The head of the Northern Territory Health Department, Dr David Ashbridge, yesterday offered his condolences but said FACS was not dysfunctional and had already corrected most of its problems. There are an estimated 30,000 children in foster care across Australia. Foster care abuse on the rise BySTEPHEN JOHNSON andSUSANNADUNKERLEY in Canberra SHARP RISE: A national set of child protection standards could replace state and territory rules following a sharp rise in cases of child abuse THE Federal Government is developing new rules to protect children in foster care as new figures show a sharp rise in cases of abuse and neglect in the community. Child welfare experts have expressed alarmbut higher reporting rates have been cited as an explanation for the spike. TheGovernment was releasing a standards paper yesterday calling for regular health checks and visits to foster carers. It calls for a national set of child protection standards to replace state and territory rules. (The standards) will ensure that every child and young person in care receives opportunities to develop at the same level as children not living in out-of-home care, the Department of Families andCommunity Services discussion paper says. National child abuse cases jumped by 6 per cent in 2009, figures released by the Australian Institute of Health andWelfare on Thursday showed. Child welfare authorities received 207,000 notifications. Of those, 33,000were substantiated, a 1.7 per cent increase comparedwith the previous year. The institute says increased community awareness and reporting rates could explain the rise, but not all child welfare experts are convinced by that argument. The Australian Childhood Foundation says authorities are not properly investigating cases as they struggled to copewith the volume of cases. When I look at those figures I think there aremany children who are being left unprotected, chief executive Dr Joe Tucci said. Aboriginal childrenwere eight timesmore likely to be on an order or living away fromhome. Cases of neglect were higher in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, areaswith more indigenous children. In other parts of Australia, emotional abusewas more common. The director of the South Australian-based Australian Centre for Child Protection, Professor Dorothy Scott, labelled the child abuse figures as deeply concerning. The vast over-representation of Aboriginal children in our child protection systems shows that this is indeed a national crisis, requiring bipartisan concerted long-term strategies, and not just in remote areas, the University of South Australia academic said. NSWhad the highest number of abused children,more than 14,000, followed byQueensland and Victoria withmore than 6000 each. Since 2005, the number of children living in foster care or with relatives has jumped by 45 per cent.