Chloe Lee Valentine died at Ingle Farm, South Australia on 20 January 2012, aged just 4 years and 5 months.
Chloe repeatedly fell from a motorcycle that she was forcibly and repeatedly placed upon. She weighed 17 kilograms, the motorcycle weighed 50 kilograms. She remained unconscious on the ground for over 8 hours while the adults who supervised her looked on the internet for what to do with an unconscious person and occupied themselves with Facebook and internet banking. Lying there on the ground, Chloe eventually stopped breathing and died.
You have heard it mentioned in the media – but I recommend you read the report of the inquest conducted by Mr Mark Johns, the South Australian State Coroner. It is a powerful denunciation of the practices and culture of Families SA, a government department headed by a highly paid public servant whose responsibility it is to safeguard children in our community who are known to be at risk.
This report is a testament to the rightful place in our community of a Coroner who is appointed to act independently of Government. We can be comforted by the fact that we have a Coroner who will speak up boldly and loudly when required and call to account the Government and those public servants who are paid public funds to meet public needs.
The report opens with this statement:
An enlightened truth, and the bedrock of sound child protection, is that childhood is fleeting. This time of life must be optimised for children’s sake, and for society’s good, because bad early experiences have deleterious, life-long consequences. Because today’s child is tomorrow’s citizen, modern nations place a premium on the care, education and socialisation of children. That adults have a duty to nurture and not damage, disturb and distress children is a universal aspiration shared by all civilised peoples. That Australians allow this social norm to be transgressed in our rich and prosperous country is what’s so shocking about the harm done under the rubric of child protection. The wrongs hereby perpetrated are of biblical proportions; doubly wicked are those who protest otherwise but must know, in their hearts, minds and consciences, that what they say is false
You can find the report at http://www.courts.sa.gov.au/CoronersFindings/Pages/default.aspx and then look under “Finding for 2015”.
WARNING: it is a distressing read
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