The numbers are soft
By Catherine Ash
After reading Alex Mitchell’s fine journalistic reportage at New Matilda entitled “The numbers speak for themselves” 5 November 2008, and Ms Burney’s weak rebuttal, I sadly, must side momentarily with Ms Burney that in fact the numbers don’t speak for themselves, simply because the numbers are purposely inaccurate.
Or to put it more succinctly:
How many DEAD children is the Minister for Community Services Ms Linda Burney, hiding?
One of these dead “known to DoCS” children is making an impact in Macquarie St. Parliamentary questions regarding the highly suspicious death of Melody Rose Conway, aged 16, who was undoubtedly abjectly neglected, and subject to insufferable conditions by DoCS up to and including 13 hours before her death. Melody’s urgent pleas for help went unanswered due to Melody being blacklisted by DoCS, are rising in the Hansard record of the NSW Parliament with some very inaccurate replies from Linda Burney.
It should be further pointed out that the “blacklisting” part of Ms Josephine Conway’s oral testimony was struck from the record at the Wood Inquiry.
was not abused at all by her mother, in fact she was a much loved child. This needless tragedy occurred due to a litany of errors in judgment by govt departments, the subsequent cover-up valued reputation and possible litigation over the life of a child.
Melody Rose Conway’s tragic tale of falling through “cracks” in the system, as wide as the Pacific Ocean, over 18 months in their alleged care illustrate the myriad of monumental errors by the NSW State Labor govt caused Melody’s death without doubt, according to her mother, Ms Josephine Conway, who calls Melody’s death “Murder by incompetence and other acts of sheer skullduggery”. Melody’s mother continues to request a Royal Commission into her only child’s murder.
The official cover up, the destruction and tampering with documents has been legendary in this case, and departments one would not have credited any involvement in normal circumstances, have most certainly participated as documents obtained clearly show.
Both Mr Ian Cohen of the Greens, and Ms Katrina Hodgkinson of the Nationals have been trading tough questions with the Minister of Community Services, and the answers create more questions of perverting the course of justice and evidence tampering than they answer, yet all the while Ms Linda Burney is attempting not to answer the questions put to her as Minister at all, and deflect into unrelated and misleading spin.
Ms Burney’s latest tactical reply to question 2297 is the non denial denial, delivered on December 17, 2008 which is to say: barb wire canoe time. Burney confirms that Melody Conway is not listed in the Child Death Review, by not correcting the assumption that Melody isn’t listed, as Ms Burney had done in previous questions regarding Melody Conway, which were of course only partially correct also . But Ms Burney attempts to mislead the Parliament by deflecting to the Ombudsman, rather than answer the question accurately and truthfully. The Child Death Review Team is a DoCS department, not an Ombudsman’s department, and I have seen the letterhead which establishes this fact.
Both Mr Ian Cohen, and Ms Katrina Hodgkinson are having none of it and continue asking questions until clear rational truthful answers are eventually obtained. One can only assume that Ms Pru Goward will relentlessly pursue this issue with the same dogged determination of her predecessor.
A number of these questions relate also to the manner with which the alleged independence of the Wood Inquiry was conducted and the alleged independence of the Commissioner, who is simultaneously the head of the NSW Sentencing Council- thereby placing this alleged independence in serious doubt.
Ms Caroline Overington of The Australian, wrote a number of searing articles on DoCS, yet strangely removed the slipper when the 40% rise in reported deaths by the Child Death Review Team, especially in the light of the tactics of the Wood Inquiry she exposed. Of course we can’t be sure that this was not an “editorial decision”, and outside Ms Overington’s ability to report. Nonetheless it would have been the cherry on a cake that the govt didn’t want publicized. Ms Overington made it clear that the suppression of over 600 submissions remained highly suspicious in many of her articles.
The Wood Inquiry listed at its “submissions” information the following:
“The Inquiry welcomes submissions from all interested persons and agencies. Anonymous submissions may be made. The Inquiry will not make public any submission or part of any submission if its author wishes it to remain confidential. If you wish all or any part of your submission to be confidential, please make that clear.
Any person wishing to contact the Inquiry, or to make a submission, preferably in writing, may do so to the address below. Submissions should be received by 11 February 2008.”
Doesn’t this parameter leave the reader with the decided impression, that unless otherwise stated that all submissions would be published? Ms Conway was most specific about her desire to have her submission published. So much so, that on page 3 and page 113 she states the following that was truncated for the Hansard record, yet it remains officially suppressed.
“Your Honour Justice Wood
As I feel sure you can well understand that reliving this entire horror story that took my reason for living away going through this all again is extremely distressing.
I humbly request that this submission which has broken my heart to write is displayed at the Inquiry’s website. Curiously I have been advised several times, by your own staff, to make this submission “confidential”, which has never been my intention, and will render that this submission has been largely an ineffectual exercise if it is excluded from the submissions.
I would note that on other inquiries conducted by the
Having read the entire submission, and interviewed the author, Ms Josephine Conway, I thoroughly agree with her assessment, there is a vast amount more to reveal, the cover up continues at a bounding pace and questions surrounding the issues will in every likelihood take place in the Parliament ad infinitum.
This submission was suppressed yet many of its recommendations were taken on board. The author faxed both the Premier Morris Iemma and the Justice Wood. The Premier stood down within days, and the allegedly independent Justice James Wood has never responded at all.
Which makes Linda Burney’s parliamentary reply to take the publication up with Justice Wood directly, knowing all the while Wood would not reply to serious questions of the integrity of the Terms of Reference of his Inquiry, all the more contentious.
Yet I return to the fine piece written by Alex Mitchell, and wonder if there had been a 40% rise in home loan interest rates, the good people of NSW would have torn the Parliament House apart brick by brick. The mainstream media would have relentlessly interviewed daily every national and international expert on every possible aspect day by day until firm and lasting assurances written in blood were attained.
It would take Jana Rawlinson a decent run up to hurdle over the weekly reportage, and it would have continued until an indecent and sudden increase had been quashed and every person with any connection to an indecent increase had been hung drawn and quartered in the full view of/ by the media. There would also have been the odd “slap Corey” game adaptation rolled out through U tube, Facebook and Bebo for good measure.
Those deemed responsible for this inexplicable and sudden monumental rise would have been followed and snapped with the vigour of the
Every household would be able to pick those responsible out of a line up due to the rampant and at times indecent amount of coverage, blaring from the net, the television and the papers, yet it would be the bloggers with little fear of retribution that would have proved the most merciless, and unfortunately done the best investigative pieces, packed with private information leaked through a series of disgruntled former employees at café’s across the nation.
Yet neither Alex Mitchell or the Minister for Community Services reveal that the “official death count” has risen by 40%, 156 innocent children “known to (and abandoned by) DoCS” and that due to the early and questionable release contains 10 ½ months of figures, not 12. Traditionally the figures are released in December.
This rather important fact hasn’t seemed to raise a mention by mainstream media, which makes one wonder severely about whether “our right to know” only operates when it suits.
First published at New Matilda
End part one
Part 1 references and hyperlinks
Alex Mitchell article New Matilda
Linda Burney’s reply
Parliamentary questions and Answers
3923—SPECIAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO CHILD PROTECTION
23 September 2008 - 2089—SPECIAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO CHILD PROTECTION SERVICES
Letter to Justice James Wood
****It should be noted that traditionally the Child Death numbers are released the first week of December.
**** Emails to numerous politicians support Ms Conway’s claims regarding the editing of the blacklisting component. Also a number of journalists were present at the hearing of the Out of Home Care hearing where this took place including Adele Horin and
Elizabeth Wynhausen- there were other “edits” of Ms Conway’s testimony.
*** The Ombudsman’s report on blacklisting was not even touched on by Wood- more on this next article
***I have seen the Coroner’s brief which makes clear many of the “tactics” used and documents tampered with or not presented in total or in many cases at all- more on this next article.
Catherine Ash is a freelance journalist, and researcher. She is currently writing a book about NSW DoCS.