The Melbourne Age reported on February 27 that child abuse charges against an Indigenous woman from the NT had finally been dropped after two years. The woman's son has still not been returned to her by Family and Children's Services Northern Territory (FACS), however.
The woman's child was seized after he suffered burns while at Nhulunbuy's Gove District Hospital waiting for treatment for a suspected chest infection. The Age report recounts, "As a nurse was attending to another sick Aboriginal child the mother carried her son to a nearby room to make a cup of tea. Minutes later, the distressed mother rushed back to the room with her son crying in her arms to get the nurse's attention, the nurse told police ... The mother gestured to the nurse that her son had burnt his foot and they rushed him to a sink to run it under cool water, court documents reveal."
The burn required treatment at the Royal Darwin hospital. While the injury was assessed, the child was "happy and comfortable" with his mother, according to the staff member who first assessed him. "There was no discussion at this stage of non-accidental injury or assault, according to records", the Age reported. However, after a registered nurse at the hospital raised suspicions of intentional harm the mother was questioned by police. The woman chose to remain silent: "A FACS worker told police the woman almost certainly did not understand the process — but FACS still took the baby away."