Territory Stories

The Northern Territory news Sat 12 Dec 2009



The Northern Territory news Sat 12 Dec 2009

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NT news


The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT




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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin

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Nationwide News Pty. Limited

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Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

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Nationwide News Pty. Limited



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30 Northern Territory News, Saturday, December 12, 2009 www.ntnews.com.au P U B : N T N E W S D A T E : 1 2 -D E C -2 0 0 9 P A G E : 3 0 C O L O R : C M Y K NATIONAL DRUG STRATEGY 2010 - 2015 NATIONAL CONSULTATION The Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy is developing Australias next National Drug Strategy and organisations and individuals are invited to have their say on ways to reduce the harm caused by illicit and legal drugs by providing ideas and directions for the next phase of the Strategy 2010-2015. A Consultation Paper and further information about how people can be part of this important conversation is available on the National Drug Strategy website (www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au), by calling 1800 209 312 or emailing NDSconsultation@health.gov.au. Submissions close on Wednesday 24 February 2010. adcorp19111 HAPPY GO LUCKY: Deborah Melville Deborahs mum speaks DISGUSTED: Deborahs mother Lyn Melville I WENT into the Department of FACS (Families and Child Services) in 99, asking for respite care. I explained to the department I needed this time, for Ive had a life-long history of sexual assault, domestic violence and because of this, Ive had a drug and alcohol problem and I needed to sort my life out and get some help, and counselling, so me and my children could live a normal, happy, life. I was pregnant at the time and I had nobody who could care for my children, as I had no family who could help me as I couldnt trust them, and there was no family on my childrens fathers side I could trust. After I gave birth I asked the department if they could have all my children in respite care for three months so I could have time to sort my life out. The department agreed to this. The week after I had this appointment, FACS served papers on me to attend court (as) they wanted to put the children in the custody of the Minister for a period of two years. This really upset me, for I felt I had gone in asking for help, because I wanted the best for my children and they had turned around and thrown it in my face. I was having counselling and rented a three-bedroom unit and was having regular visits with my children. I was getting tested for cervical cancer and bowel cancer. I was sick and in a lot of pain and I hadnt slept properly for a long time so I was very withdrawn and tired. During this time they told me Denise Reynolds had put her hand up to care for my five children. I told them that Denise and myself did not have a good relationship, that she has had nothing to do with my children and that they dont know her. It wasnt long after they had told me (about Denise) that I had to put myself in detox from there I did the FORWAARD (alcohol rehabilitation) program. While I was doing the program my counsellor helped me arrange a time to have access with my children but it also had to fit in with the program. Because FORWAARD wasnt an appropriate place for children, we had arranged the next visit to be at Nuga Minbani child care centre, for an hour. I was quite upset on this visit because the children were distracted with their friends and we didnt get quality time together. I spoke to my counsellor about it and I asked her if she could talk to the case workers there and ask them if I could have the next visit at a park with my children. It wasnt long after that when I left FORWAARD and moved out to Fogg Dam with my partner. My children were suddenly taken off one carer and Deborah was put into the care of Denise Reynolds. That got me very distressed for I was worried about the care Deborah was receiving from Denise and how she was being treated, which I addressed with the department. I went to see Deborah for Christmas at Denises Bees Creek property; when I got there and went inside she was excited to see me. I was really concerned and distressed when I had to leave, for I had noticed a lot of changes in her. The whole time I was there she clung to me more than usual. The children were dirty, they had no clothes on except for underwear, they look scared and frightened to do anything. Deborah asked me to get a drink of water for her because she said that they werent allowed to go to the fridge to get a drink of water or we will get in trouble from Aunty Denise. I noticed there werent any toys for the children to play with, so they were really happy with the toys that I had bought them for Christmas and they wouldnt put them down. This was very unusual for Deborah to act in this manner which I discussed on the way back into town with the FACS worker. After this visit Denise didnt want me to have visits with Deborah; she told the department that it upsets her too much and she was trying to get Deborah used to her. When the department told me this, I told them that they cant stop me from seeing my children. My partner had a drinking problem (and) as I was trying to get my children back,we completed the program at CAAPS (Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Program Services). I told my counsellor about the problem with FACS and how much I wanted my children back and how I wanted to see them, so my counsellor contacted the department and arranged a time for me to have access with my children. During the visits I had with my children while I was at CAAPS, Deborah would tell me that she was only allowed to have two slices of bread and an apple a day, that they werent allowed to get a drink of water, but Aunty Denises kids can. They would always be poorly dressed and Deborah would always be upset when the visits were over saying, Mummy I want to stay with you. Deborah shared everything with me and told me everything that upset her we were extremely close. It wasnt long after that Todd Melville (Toni Melville and Denise Reynolds brother) came around and told me that they wanted to help me get Deborah back off Denise. I arranged an appointment for us to go in and discuss all of our concerns. The school was complaining about the children going to school dirty, no food and no shoes. I then went to not-for-profit organisation KARU (Aboriginal Family Support Agency) and spoke to Natalie Hunter and told her everything and asked if she could come along to the appointment with me, as the department told me that I was putting things into the childrens heads. I feel so angry, upset and disgusted. Ive done everything they asked of me and Ive had no help in return. They took me to court and took my children off me and let my daughter die a slow and agonising death when all Ive done is try to protect my children from these monsters. The department knew what was going on and didnt do anything about it. They sat back and let my children and myself suffer. No words could explain all my pain and anger I have with the department and Denise. How my daughters death affected me. I made a promise to Deborah the day she was born that I would never let anyone hurt her the way they hurt me and it kills me every day knowing I couldnt keep that promise because I had no help. I miss my baby so much. She was such a happy-go lucky child ever since she was small. She had a lovely personality and was a friendly little girl. Theres no words to describe how much I miss her and hope that one day she would walk back in my door so I can love her, hold her and care for her again the way Ive alway tried caring for them. There has never been a day that has gone by without me hoping she will come back. LynMelville In July, 2007 12-year-old Deborah Melville died outside her foster carer Denise Reynolds house, three weeks after a sports injury went unnoticed and untreated. Deborahs mother LYNMELVILLE sat through the three-week inquest which ended this week, and tendered this edited statement to the Northern Territory Coroner Greg Cavanagh

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