Perth, Australia: Heartbreaking new details emerge about 10-year-old boy who took own life

The parents of a 10-year-old boy who took his own life in state care were made to jump through ‘hoop after hoop’ in their failed bid to be reunited, an advocate says.

The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, died on Friday night in Perth while under the care of the Department of Communities.

WA Premier Roger Cook said the death was a tragedy and he would support expediting the coronial inquest.

National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project director Megan Krakouer said the boy was removed from his parents’ care four days before Christmas in 2020 when they were living in a tent.

She said they had created a stable home in the years since and were working with the department in an attempt to reunite their family but it had been unsupportive and judgmental.

The 10-year-old boy (pictured) was under the care of the WA Department of Communities

‘Their hearts are broken,’ she said.

‘They are good people, respectful people, loving people.’

‘Ms Krakouer, who is acting for the parents, said they felt there had been a significant power imbalance and the department had ignored them as they attempted to reunite their family.

‘They made them jump through hoop after hoop after hoop,’ she said.

‘Some of the words they used were ‘grooming’ and ‘manipulation’ and they also said… they were being looked down upon.’

Ms Krakouer said the first time the boy’s parents had been permitted to see him as a couple since he was removed from their care was at a morgue.

She said the department had failed the family.

‘Twenty-six case managers over four years and there was not even a cultural safety plan,’ she said.

Mr Cook said the boy’s death was ‘very sad’ and had left him with ’cause for reflection’.

‘It’s always horrible when you see a young child resort to what must be the most desperate act, which is the act of taking one’s own life,’ he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said the boy's death was tragic and highlighted the difficulties face by some Indigenous communities

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said the boy’s death was tragic and highlighted the difficulties face by some Indigenous communities

‘(It) makes you wonder what else we can do to make sure that we keep young people safe.’

The Department of Communities said it could not comment on individual cases.

‘The death of any child or young person is a tragedy which has a devastating impact on the families, friends and communities involved,’ a spokesman said.

‘Any death of a child in care automatically triggers a coronial inquest and we support all matters of this nature being investigated.’

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said it was ‘impossible not to be moved by’ the boy’s death and it was a ‘tragic circumstance’.

‘It certainly does speak to the fact that we have enormous challenges going forward in relation to closing the gap,’ he told ABC TV.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney said the death was ‘shocking, heartbreaking and demands deep reflection’.

‘My heart goes out to the family and community in WA that has lost a son so young,’ she posted on X.

Senator Lidia Thorpe called on the federal government to implement the recommendations of the 1997 Bringing Them Home report.

‘Minister Burney and the Prime Minister are failing to protect First Nations children,’ she said.

‘They should be deeply ashamed of the news of this young boy’s death.’

WA Liberal leader Libby Mettam said the department was under-resourced and allegations the boy had 26 caseworkers in just over three years were disturbing.

‘Quite clearly this is a department in crisis,’ she said.

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