On 18 November 2011, a fire tore through the Quakers Hill Nursing Home centre in my electorate, tragically killing 11 residents. Some perished in the fire; others as a result of their injuries.
At 4.22 am on 30 May 2013, the same week that former nurse Roger Dean pleaded guilty to starting that fire, the Victims Rights and Support Bill 2013, which has retrospective application, was passed through the New South Wales Upper House. News Limited journalist Ben McClellan reported in the Blacktown Advocate under the headline ‘Families furious over compo changes denying them funds’:
THE same week NSW’s worst mass murderer pleaded guilty to the Quakers Hill nursing home fire, the NSW Liberal Government ushered in changes to its victim’s compensation scheme that will deny half of the 11 murder victims families financial compensation.
This move was defended in that article by Liberal state member for Riverstone, Kevin Conolly. This follows on from criticism from the Community Legal Centres NSW and Women’s Legal Services, who say the bill that was passed by the Liberals actually runs counter to the UN’s recommendations on reparations for women who have been subjected to violence.
This is truly a sorry state of affairs. It is the worst single tragedy in Quakers Hill. I can understand why families are furious. They deserve dignity, justice and reparations. As one of the victim’s family members said: ‘We don’t get a penny. Why kick us when we are down?’ That is a very good question.