Queensland Residents Feared For Baby Before Beach Death
Gold Coast residents tried to get help for the baby of a homeless couple months before the little girl was found dead on a beach.
At least two locals say they contacted police and other authorities about the family, which had been sleeping rough near the beach where the nine-month-old was found dead on Monday.
Erin Sorensen says she went to police two months ago to share her concerns about the baby, as well as a toddler who was also sleeping rough with the couple.
"Clearly, I wasn't taken seriously," she wrote on Facebook.
"It was winter and the dunes were freezing every time the sun went down. I didn't think that was good for a baby or toddler."
Queensland Police could not immediately confirm the couple had a second child with them and the state's child safety authority has refused to comment, citing privacy reasons.
But unnamed sources have told The Courier-Mail child safety officers were aware of the family's circumstances.
Another resident wrote to the Gold Coast City Council on May 18, expressing fears for the baby and toddler who were sleeping on a wooden platform in a beachside park with their parents.
At night the resident said they could hear the infant crying. "Why was the baby left with the parents, just why," the resident, who was not named, told The Gold Coast Bulletin.
Council staff wrote back after five days, apologising for the late reply and telling the resident to raise the matter with other authorities as it was not a council responsibility.
A support worker from homeless services did visit the family but the couple refused help, the Bulletin reported.
Child safety advocate Hetty Johnston says the premier must order an inquiry, like the one that followed death of Logan schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer, who was murdered by her foster father while in state care.
"If they (child services) did know about this family, we need to know what has happened here," the Bravehearts founder told AAP.
"And if they didn't know, then there's something seriously wrong right there. If people are saying they heard this child crying out for help, and nobody came, that's an absolute disgrace."
Detectives are trying to determine if the baby was dead before she was found by a passer-by at the water's edge on a Surfers Paradise Beach on Monday. It's believed she had been in the water at some point.
Meanwhile, NSW Police are looking at the couple's movements in the Tweed Heads area, on the border with Queensland, where they were also known to have been sleeping rough.
Queensland Police expect to receive the results of an autopsy on the baby on Tuesday.