I have been following this case since it first broke two years ago. I have yet to see one word of explanation as to how or why the dad--who is still identified only as ROBERT even though he is now deceased--got custody of this child. In fact, true to one of our basic Dastardly Dads axioms, the father's custodial status has generally been "forgotten" by the media as the trial and/or investigations began. So as usual, we see the child protection agencies take the (symbolic) hit for this. But whoever placed this baby in this monster's care continues to fly under the radar. Just business as usual. Unidentified and unaccountable.
The system failed little Hayley Adrian Lowe
October 19, 2011
The death of a toddler bashed at her father's house in 2009 could not be prevented but the system which failed to protect her needs to change, a coroner has found.
The girl, Hayley, was two years old when she was bashed at the St Arnaud house when her father, Robert, his girlfriend and the girlfriend's brother were present. She died a month later and Robert committed suicide after police charged him with assault.
Today, coroner John Olle released his finding on the deaths after a two-week inquest in June and July. He said both Victoria Police and the Department of Human Services had acknowledged serious deficiencies in their investigations before and after Hayley's death.
These included failing to take photographs of Hayley's injuries at child care when her brother said Robert's girlfriend was responsible and police not communicating with DHS when the report of Hayley's assault was made.
"The prevention of child abuse and neglect is not achieved solely through statutory involvement with child protection agencies and police criminal investigations," Mr Olle said. "For the most part, these responses occur in the wake of harm to a child having already occurred.
"It is essential that investment therefore be made in programs designed to engage and assist families prior to serious problems emerging and before particular patterns of behaviour become entrenched."
Each of the three adults at Robert's house on the night of the assault in July 2009 was heavily drinking and Hayley was kept awake as punishment for being naughty.
"It appears that Hayley was required to stand in a corner for an extended period, possibly hours," Mr Olle said.
"It is apparent Robert was unable to cope with a two-year-old and that he demonstrated extremely poor parenting skills."
Neither Robert's girlfriend or her brother testified at the inquest and Mr Olle said he could not conclude on the evidence before him that any of the adults present intended to cause fatal injuries.
Mr Olle said: "It is likely that a child protection system designed to prevent abuse before it occurs was Hayley's best chance of survival — this is the single biggest learning from this investigation."
The inquest heard that both police and DHS were notified by child care centre staff of Hayley's injuries but neither continued an investigation.
Mr Olle made six recommendations, including that Victoria Police and DHS Child Protection consider providing training to staff involved in child abuse investigation about significance of bruising and injury patterns that could indicate inflicted injuries.
He also recommended the DHS thoroughly analyse its requirements in the Grampians region and ensure early intervention and family support as required, as well as considering a community education program about child abuse, including when a report to DHS was warranted.