NATIONAL: A NSW Parliamentary committee will hear from the relatives of the Bowraville murder victims as early as next year after the upper house voted unanimously in favour of an inquiry. It’s a development the families say gives them hope.
It follows more than two decades of protest by the families of the victims for justice for their three children – Colleen Walker, 16, Evelyn Greenup 4, and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, 16.
From 1990-1991, the three children all disappeared from the same stretch of road on Bowraville mission.
There has only been one man accused of the crimes – but despite two court cases and a coronial inquest, he has never been convicted. A lot of the blame lies in the original botched police investigation, which was hindered by racism.
Last Thursday, families of the Bowraville murder victims protested outside Macquarie St. The protest ended in a small victory – Greens MLA David Shoebridge was able to get up a motion calling on a parliamentary inquiry into the community response to the murders.
Today, the NSW upper house voted unanimously in favour of an inquiry by the Law and Justice Committee into the Bowraville murders.
Clinton’s sister-in-law Leonie Duroux told Tracker from Bowraville that the families had never been given this sort of opportunity.
She has called on politicians to visit Bowraville, and has tried to organise meetings with the families, but has never had the ear of elected representatives.
Watching the live webcast of parliament from the small mid-north coast town, she said “we sat there and it was like it wasn’t real. Every time we’ve had doors slammed in our faces. We were looking at each other saying, this doesn’t feel right, but we’ve got it. And we’ve never had that before”.
“We’ve been trying to get meetings with politicians for years, Andrew Stoner did meet us. But I’ve invited politicians to Bowraville on several occasions.
“Anyone that’s got a heart can’t listen to this community and turn their back on them.”
Colleen’s mother Muriel Craig Walker told Tracker that the inquiry gives her hope.
“At least we’re going to see someone. We’ll be able to talk to someone important and we can tell them how we feel. It’s been a hard struggle for us.”
Greens MLA David Shoebridge told Tracker the inquiry will most likely be held early next year and it would be open for submissions over the Christmas period.
“The committee has been specifically tasked with hearing from the families about the impact of the murders and the impact has continued over 23 years and has included an extraordinarily emotional path…
“…Anyone who has spent time talking to the families and looking at what they’ve gone through and what the community has gone through for the past 23 years, with the loss of three children… it’s hard not to have an emotional reaction.
“The inquiry is about giving the opportunity for the families to speak and also about making sure their elected representatives listen to them. I feel quite certain that no body can hear their evidence, hear their testimony and not want to do something.”
Over the past two decades the families of these three children have struggled to secure the attention of mainstream media and the public, and have consistently been met with apathy.
To this day, most Australians have never heard of the Bowraville murders. That’s despite the community notching up historic victories – like the overturning of the double jeopardy principle in NSW. This is an Australian, and potential world-first.
Earlier this year, the state Attorney General Greg Smith knocked back what was seen as the last avenue for justice. He decided against using his powers to refer the case back to the Court of Criminal Appeal. He said the new evidence collected by the new police investigation was neither “fresh” or compelling”.
For more information on the Bowraville murders, please click here.