Loss drives doc­tor’s cause

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News -

THE mother of fa­tal shark attack vic­tim Kyle Bur­den wants to de­velop a shark ed­u­ca­tion and vic­tim sup­port cen­tre but can­not se­cure fund­ing from the State Gov­ern­ment.

Sharon Bur­den, who lost her son Kyle to a Bunker Bay shark attack in 2011, said the WA Gov­ern­ment needed to pro­vide clear, ob­jec­tive in­for­ma­tion on sharks to the public.

Dr Bur­den said at a rally at Scarborough Beach last week the lack of clear in­for­ma­tion was adding to a fear of sharks and did not be­lieve ed­u­cat­ing the public would hurt tourism.

“Un­til WA and lo­cal coun­cils be­come com­fort­able that peo­ple won’t be scared away from beaches be­cause there is in­for­ma­tion on sharks avail­able, we’re not go­ing to make much progress,” she said.

Dr Bur­den said she hoped to cre­ate the Ocean Safe Cen­tre, where the public can re­ceive bal­anced in­for­ma­tion about sharks in WA wa­ters, as well as pro­vid­ing sup­port to vic­tims of at­tacks and their fam­i­lies.

“If you look at other ways peo­ple pass away in tragic cir­cum­stances, road ac­ci­dent vic­tims or can­cer, they have quite a well struc­tured, well re­sourced sup­port sys­tem,” she said.

“What we wanted was to say, ‘if an event hap­pens, here’s your drop-in cen­tre, just come and talk to us’.”

Dr Bur­den, a reg­is­tered psy­chol­o­gist, said she had the nec­es­sary “some­thing” to pro­vide sup­port to shark attack vic­tims and fam­i­lies, af­ter deal­ing with the sud­den loss of her 21-year-old son in the State’s south.

“It’s im­por­tant to me, I’ve got the back­ground in psy­chol­ogy and when you’ve been through it your­self, you’re in po­si­tion to say what type of strate­gies that work,” she said.

Dr Bur­den said she sub­mit­ted a busi­ness plan to the State Gov­ern­ment last year, but re­ceived a let­ter re­ject­ing the pro­posal.

“You hardly get a re­sponse, you get a let­ter say­ing the State Gov­ern­ment is putting a cer­tain amount into re­search and ev­ery­thing else,” she said.

Fish­eries Min­is­ter Ken Bas­ton said he had not been made aware of Dr Bur­den’s pro­posal.

“There are risks in all hu­man ac­tiv­ity and it is the same for en­ter­ing the ocean for swim­ming or surf­ing,” Mr Bas­ton said.

“It is im­por­tant to as­sess the haz­ard and make an in­formed choice, in the same way we ap­proach road safety; the haz­ard is al­ways there and we need to eval­u­ate the in­for­ma­tion avail­able to choose our re­sponse.”

Dr Bur­den said it was im­por­tant to ed­u­cate the public and ac­tively change the rhetoric sur­round­ing the is­sue.

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