Twenty-eight years ago three Aboriginal children, Colleen, Evelyn and Clinton, went missing from Bowraville. Many people in the Bowraville community believe the children were murdered. Their families, and the Bowraville community, continue to grieve for their loss.
The Standing Committee on Law and Justice, in their 2014 report The family response to the murders in Bowraville, identified a number of failings in the criminal justice system’s initial response to the suspected murders of the children. The children, their families, and the Bowraville community deserved better. I am sorry for what they have endured.
The Committee made 15 recommendations to improve the criminal justice system and help the Bowraville community to heal. The NSW Government has implemented every recommendation.
The Government engaged a specialist consultant to work with the families to assess their healing needs and funded the Red Dust Healing program so family members who desire counselling can receive it. Following extensive community consultation, Solution Brokerage is working to build lasting community resilience for the Bowraville community. Four memorials dedicated to the memory of the children are complete.
In 2016, the former Attorney General, the Hon Gabrielle Upton MP, made an application to the Court of Criminal Appeal for the retrial of a person in connection with the murders of Clinton and Evelyn to ensure the transparent resolution of the matter before an independent court. It was the first ever application for the retrial of an acquitted person in NSW.
The application was made following a thorough investigation by the NSW Police Force. I wish to acknowledge, in particular, the work of Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin over the past 20 years to bring this matter before the court.
Today, the Court of Criminal Appeal refused the application. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and I have met with the families of the Colleen, Evelyn and Clinton to discuss the decision.
I will carefully consider the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal over the coming days. I will seek legal advice about the prospects of a special leave application to the High Court.
I will continue to ensure that the families are supported and kept closely informed about any developments in this matter.