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January 31, 2009 permalink
What is more important, protecting confidentiality or saving a girl's life? In Australia it is confidentiality. A girl is missing from a foster home, but authorities refuse to allow publication of her name and picture to help in finding her.
Hunt for girl, 14, barred
Article from: Sunday Herald Sun, James Campbell, February 01, 2009 12:00am
THIS girl, 14, has been missing for three months. There are grave fears for her welfare, but the authorities will not allow us to show you her face.
She is supposed to be in the care of the Department of Human Services, but has been missing for all except a few hours since she ran away from her foster home in October.
There is a warrant out for her arrest over an aggravated burglary and a serious assault - allegedly committed with her boyfriend, 19.
Her desperate mother has pleaded for weeks with the department to let her go public, but officials have refused to ask the Children's Court to allow her to be identified.
We cannot even say where she is missing from or where authorities believe she may be.
Andrea - not her real name - said her daughter's life had spiralled out of control after she went into care in September 2007.
"I went to them (the DHS) for help because Gemma (not her real name) was running away," she said.
"Since she's been in the department's care she's been drinking, taking drugs and engaging in prostitution.
"I wake up wondering if today is the day someone rings to tell me they've found her dead on a street corner."
Andrea said she first went to the department for help when Gemma was 11.
"They said they couldn't do anything because there wasn't a protective issue," she said.
Instead, they offered counselling, but Gemma refused to attend.
By September 2007, Andrea was at the end of her tether and again contacted the department, which put Gemma into foster care.
Andrea said she now bitterly regretted her actions.
After months of coming and going from her carers' home, Gemma left in October.
A department spokesman said: "An appeal to the court is not the only way to locate her.
"It's known she's out and about in the ---- area.
"Outreach workers, police and other agencies are on the look-out for her. She has been in contact by phone."
Source: Herald Sun