The family of an 11-year-old girl who committed suicide after her suspected sex offender was bailed have thrown their “full support” behind any investigation into the tragedy that could lead to legal changes.
NCA NewsWire suspects the girl from a small town south of Perth was allegedly sexually assaulted by a man aged 60 who cannot be identified in order to protect her identity.
He has been charged with six cases of abuse of a child and five cases of sexual intrusion into a child and is currently due to be tried again in December.
Gerry Georgatos, Coordinator of the National Project for Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery, has supported the “Broken Family” saying they support a coronial investigation and any other investigation that could help.
“Everything that can be done should be done,” he said on Wednesday.
“It’s upsetting (the family), it hurts them, it burns them up.”
Mr Georgatos said the family and supporters wanted to know why the defendant was not taken into custody instead of bail – first from the police, then from a court.
He said it was hoped that the laws would be strengthened so that someone like the defendant would not get bail.
A court spokeswoman for WA Coroner confirmed that an investigation into the circumstances of the girl’s death would be conducted.
“The court will have family ties throughout the coronial process,” she said.
Regional WA deputy police commissioner Jo McCabe said the girl was repeatedly sexually abused between 2014 and 2020.
“It is unacceptable and tragic for someone so young to commit suicide and many questions need to be answered,” she told reporters.
“This will ultimately be the coroner’s business, but I’m here today to say that the WA police will take over any issues we can improve on to prevent this from happening again.
“An early assessment of this case shows me that the police’s bail should be refused and should not be considered in this case.”
Police also announced that there was “a suggestion” that the man may have broken his bail and the officers are investigating.
Deputy Prime Minister Roger Cook described the girl’s death as a terrible tragedy.
“When a little girl who clearly feels vulnerable and hopeless and has no hope takes her life … I think it hits the heart of our whole sense of humanity and our heart goes out to the family,” Cook told Reporter.
“I’m sure we’ll see how we reacted in this situation.
“To the best of my knowledge, there was an element of counseling and some support that was available (to the girl). So we need to check whether this is appropriate.
“I am sure the judicial system will examine how bail and other judicial arrangements (for the defendants) were also administered.”
Opposition spokesman Peter Katsambanis said the case showed that the Washington administration failed to reform the Bail Act after promising to do so three years ago.
“A child is dead and a family is traumatized after another catastrophic failure of our justice system,” he said.
“Police bail should never be an option if someone is accused of a child sexual offense.
“It should be completely off the table and any suspected perpetrators should remain in custody until a court can determine bail.
“A court should only allow bail for a suspected sex offender in exceptional circumstances and only after a full bail risk assessment report has been drawn up.”
Mr. Cook, who is also the minister for health and mental health, said previous research into Aboriginal youth suicide has shown that “culturally informed” services are important.
“That is why we ran a process to fund a regional Aboriginal response to suicide,” he said.
“So what works in the Kimberley doesn’t work in Noongar Land. What the Yamatji want for their people could be different.
“We have to make sure that we have adequate service, but that it is controlled by the Aboriginal community itself.”
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