Western Australian Minister for Housing, Peter Tinley may now reconsider meeting with the family of Denishar Woods on May 30.
NITV News yesterday revealed that the family would be suing the Western Australian State Government after 11-year-old Miss Woods was left blind with a severe brain injury requiring lifelong care after she was electrocuted by touching a garden tap of their Department of Housing home.
This morning the family held a press conference at the office of the National Indigenous Critical Response, alongside Director Gerry Georgatos, where they officially announced their plans to commence legal action.
However Mr Georgatos said the family would prefer to settle outside of court.
"We don't want to wait, and we can't wait for settlement in court. We're asking the State Government to step up through Ministerial discretion as it has in the past for other families to meet advanced payment, and to secure immediate management of the care of young Denishar, and to reduce the stress levels upon the family and upon the siblings," he said.
"If these needs aren't met, it will be problematic and it may degenerate to all sorts of situational trauma, constancy of trauma, and aggressive complex trauma.
"We don't want to see children put in that abhorrent predicament, we don't want to see this solid, strong mother continue on in that predicament."
Miss Woods will soon be discharged from the hospital, and her mother Lacey Harrison worries that she will be unable to meet her requirements without support.
"Basically we're asking the Government to come forward and support us, and help us because nobody has stepped forward and taken responsibility, and we need justice for Denishar to come home," she said.
"[I'm] very disappointed because it's only been the support of Indigenous Critical Response that's actually helped, and the community of the GoFundMe appeals. We're not ones to ask for money but in this instance Denishar has ultimately extreme needs, they're not everyday disability needs.
"My daughter is blind. We have to do special OT, special speech, special physio, extra things that the community organisations can only support for half an hour. We want to get the ultimate best results for Denishar, and by doing that we have to be able to afford to extra places to help her get the best care needs possible."
However the Minister's office said it is yet to be formally advised of any legal action.
"The Minister’s office has not been advised formally of this situation at this point – but when it is, we may have to reconsider the currently scheduled 30 May meeting (dependant on legal advice) with Denishar’s family," a representative told NITV News.
Earlier this morning Mr Tinley had told media that he hadn't spoken to the family, but it was at their discretion whether or not they commence legal action.
"I haven’t spoken with Lacey Harrison for some time. I can’t recall exactly when it was, but I have spoken to her," he said.
“I don’t deny any Western Australian from their legal rights. It’s not up to me to make an assessment about the rights or wrongs of whether they should or shouldn’t launch their legal bid if they’re doing such a thing.
“I’d imagine they’re getting their own legal advice and we’ll wait and see what happens.”
Mr Tinley said the Department had so far provided the following support for the family:
- Relocated Ms Harrison and her family to a four-bedroom property in Marangaroo, which they occupied on 27 March 2018.
- In consideration of the circumstances and on compassionate grounds, the Department is not currently charging the family rent for the Marangaroo property until 30 June 2018.
- Arranged a referral for Ms Harrison to its Support and Tenant Education Program (STEP) for further assistance and support.
- Rent concession of four weeks rent provided to the tenant as the family were not occupying the Beldon property as a result of the incident.
- Other tenant charges were waived from Ms Harrison’s account.