Baby Gammy: Department of Child Protection makes contact with Bunbury parents

THE Department of Child Protection have made contact with the biological parents of baby Gammy, following repeated visits to their South Bunbury property.

Minister for Child Protection Helen Morton released a media statement today stating that the department had made telephone contact with the family.

“The Department for Child Protection and Family Support is continuing its investigation into the safety and well-being of the surrogate child in WA featured in the media recently," it read.

“The Department’s work is complex, and to ensure the integrity of the assessment it is vital that it is carried out in as thorough a manner as possible it is important that all relevant information is gathered from a range of areas and agencies, and that we speak with everyone involved from family members through to those providing support services.

“While we understand the high level of community interest in the case, the Department will not be providing an on-going commentary on its status, as to do so could prejudice its inquiries and create stress within the family.

“The paramount consideration in this case, now and in the future, must be the well-being of the child and its family.”

Ms Morton said the department had not had “any considerations or issues to the contrary” when asked if she was satisfied if Gammy’s baby sister was safe and in good care.

"Advice at this stage is that there is no evidence that the family at the centre of this issue have committed any offence against Western Australian law," she said.

Officers from the Department for Child Protection visited the Farnell home on two separate occasions earlier this week.

Both attempts were met with silence from the residence and the family’s whereabouts came into question.

During the radio interview Ms Morton was asked if the department was concerned about Mr Farnell’s criminal past.

David Farnell  was convicted of 15 charges of indecently dealing with two girls and was jailed for three years.

“All of the issues that might need to be considered will be considered in this process and the process will take a reasonable length of time... in normal circumstances like this there would be a number of people contacted so that once again the safety and wellbeing of the child is really considered fully and comprehensively," she said.

She said the department’s options could range from a home-based safety plan for the baby through to her living elsewhere.

Baby Gammy’s story has reached around the world since Fairfax Media broke it last week.

Ms Morton said she understood the public’s “intense interest” in the story but urged the media and bystanders to respect the family’s privacy and confidentiality.

Media have been camped out the front of the couple's property since Monday morning.

Ms Morton said a review of the operation and effectiveness of the Surrogacy Act, as required under the Act, had commenced in February 2014. 

"Public submissions were sought as part of that process.  Issues of international commercial surrogacy were raised in submissions and the report will reflect the Australian and international context."   


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