Loss drives doctor’s cause
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.