Over 300 people from up and down the Mid North Coast have gathered in Bowraville to make their feelings known about last Thursday’s decision by the Court of Criminal Appeal to not grant a retrial for the killings of the three Bowraville children.
The march from the Evelyn Greenup memorial gardens on Carbin St, to the police station on High St, coincided with other marches happening around the country, including one in Tenterfield and outside Parliament House in Sydney.
The gardens themselves are one of the positive outcomes to have stemmed from the 15 tabled recommendations from the parliamentary inquiry into the handling of the Bowraville murders and the necessary healing process.
Reuben Robinson from Aboriginal Affairs talks about the progress and setbacks from the past few years:
It’s been four years since those recommendations were handed down, and the Bowraville community has worked hard to heal itself and forge a positive new path for itself.
The decision on Thursday was a major setback to that healing process, especially for Colleen Walker Craig’s family who have never been able to find her remains, and are desperate for some closure.
Colleen’s brother Lucas Craig explains how it was for him, on the 28th anniversary of his sister’s disappearance, to be handed down such a crushing court decision.
Colleen’s sister Paula Craig appealed to the community to bring any information they might be sitting on to the attention of police.
“We hear so many people tell us that they know what happened – they’ve heard this or they saw that. Don’t come to us, please tell the police so we might finally find Colleen and lay her to rest like she deserves,” she said over the microphone during the march.
The crowd in Bowraville today represented a broad cross-section of the community – young and old, white and black – and were all there to support the families who say their fight has not ended yet.
Uncle Martin Ballangarry brought some ceremonial ochre – white, to mark the occasion of a death – and a few of the men ritually painted themselves before the march.
Members of the march called out to shop owners and anyone within listening distance to join them.
Watch some of the march here
Clinton Speedy-Duroux’s nephew Marbuck, who organised the rally, was rendered speechless by the turnout today, and copiously thanked those gathered for their support.
“It does bring a lot of hope, seeing everyone who’s made the effort to get here. There’s not only locals but people from Coffs Harbour, Bellingen,” he said.
“It’s good to have the support, but we shouldn’t have to be here fighting 28 years on for something that should have been done properly in the first place. It’s not right.”
Marbuck Duroux says he, his brother, and the younger generation will now stand up and continue the fight for justice:
Colleen’s sister Paula Craig addressed the crowd at the park saying the next step in the legal process is to campaign for the ‘double jeopardy’ law wording to be changed to enable an appeal to the High Court.
But today NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman made an announcement that he will apply for special leave to appeal the decision.
“I sought urgent legal advice from Senior Counsel after the judgment was delivered,” he said.
“Having considered that advice, I will now make an application for special leave to appeal the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal to the High Court of Australia.
“Consideration of any legislative reform should await the resolution of the application before the High Court.”