‘Disgraceful decision’ to reject $2.3m payment
THE Western Australian Government has rejected a proposed partial settlement for an 11-year-old Perth girl who suffered a catastrophic brain injury after receiving an electric shock from a garden tap.
Denishar Woods was shocked with up to 230 volts after she touched the tap in her family's public housing property in March this year, leaving her unable to walk and talk.
The National Indigenous Critical Response Service (NICRS), which has been supporting the Perth girl's family since the incident, said the government's decision to reject making the $3.2 million payment is "morally and politically abominable".
National co-ordinator of the NICRS Gerry Georgatos said it's a diabolical, reprehensible predicament that's been knocked up by the State Government in rejecting the ex-gratia.
"The ex-gratia partial advance on the due compensation would have significantly reduced distress levels for the family, reduced vulnerabilities, improved life circumstance, would have provided security with a home owned by Denishar, would have afforded specialist carers and therapies," Mr Georgatos told news.com.au.
He said the family is under enormous financial pressures, unable to afford adequate specialist care management, unable to afford therapies, unable to afford essentials.
"That the family has been stranded like this for the next few years 'til compensation is settled is both morally and politically abominable."
NICRS CEO Adele Cox added if a government wants to behave like this, "we'll go hard".
"My team - the NICRS - are working to the point of fatigue supporting the family, and other families in dire circumstance, because governments can meet their basic obligations to their constituents. We will pursue the Government where we must," Ms Cox said.
The family has attracted support of many including Sandy Davies, chairman of the Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Services, who has met with the family and the NICRS arguing "it's a disgrace" that the family's ex-gratia application has not been upheld.
"An ex-gratia payment would have meant owning a home, security, all the purpose-built needs - government should do the right thing here," Mr Davies said.
Denishar's mother, Lacey Harrison, said she was "shell-shocked" by the government's decision which would "strand my daughter, my children, myself as a mother".
"We should not be in this deplorable position where we've got to wait years for the compensation," she said.
Mr Georgatos is begging the State Government to review its "disgraceful decision" as the taskforce can't afford the specialist care and therapies.
He said the full settlement for Denishar was likely to run to between $10 and $15 million to cover the cost of her care for the rest of her life. But he said that could take several years to finalise and the ex-gratia payment would ease some of the family's enormous financial pressures.
The taskforce has secured three months of free taxi travel for Denishar to medical appointments, through Swan Taxis.
The WA Government is currently being contacted for comment.
However, last month it approved an act of grace payment to allow the family to buy a specially modified vehicle.
An investigation into the incident is still before the Office of Energy Safe, which according to Mr Georgatos, was due to be resolved by June.
"It is utterly improper it has not been completed and made public," he said.