A 15-year-old girl in state care who was allegedly raped and died after a drug overdose was “used and abused” by those she should have been able to rely upon, a coronial inquest has heard.
Nanjing Night Net

The opening day of the inquest into the death of the girl, identified as MK, heard that predatory adults used her for their own ends, “involving her in criminal activity, drug use and probably prostitution”, and that older men regularly sneaked into the youth refuge where she was living.

MK, who was a ward of the NSW state, died at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead on Monday, April 21, 2014. She went into cardiac arrest after she is believed to have used cannabis and to have injected herself with a mixture of heroin and ice.

An autopsy found MK had the word “hate” scratched into her right thigh, a wound believed to have not healed from when she cut the phrase “I hate feelings” into her leg earlier that month.

MK died only a few weeks before she was due to give evidence at a trial of a youth worker who had allegedly raped her when she was 14 while living in a different refuge in Sydney in 2012. MK had also alleged she had sex with another carer at the centre.

Family and Community Services Minister Brad Hazzard confirmed on Monday that he had written to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, asking it to look into alleged abuse at the centre between 2012 and 2014.

The DPP has also been asked to review the case against the youth worker who allegedly raped MK, after the charges were dropped following her death.

In her opening address, counsel assisting Donna Ward told the inquest there was ample evidence that MK was “used and abused by many of the people who she should have been able to rely upon for comfort and care”.

A forensic psychologist, Chris Lennings, observed that, by the time she died, MK was operating in “survivor mode” and a diagnosis of conduct disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, depression and amphetamine abuse would have been likely.

Two workers at the refuge gave evidence that they knew MK took drugs and that adult men frequently sneaked into the refuge at night to visit her, but said staff had difficulty stopping them.

MK would often go missing overnight, including for as long as seven weeks on one occasion, and her behaviour had “deteriorated” in the month before she died.

The girl was worried about the looming court case and was having a “hard time”, one worker said.

The worker agreed that staff lacked the resources to enforce the refuge’s rules and they had come to the conclusion that MK should be moved to a facility that could provide more intense care and support.

The inquest heard that on the Saturday before she died, a man had snuck into the refuge, taken heroin offered to him by MK and when he awoke the next morning next to her “thought something was not right”.

Later in the day, he heard MK “make a funny breathing noise”. The on-duty youth worker was called and began CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Ms Ward said MK had a “sad history”, and child protection concerns had been raised about her when she was only a few months old.

Attempts to restore MK and her twin brothers to the care of her father, mother and extended family had each failed and the children were placed in residential placements or group homes.

Ms Ward said some “hard truths” would emerge during the week-long inquest and MK’s death raised questions about how families, communities and “the system” could fail children and young people.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


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