Mor­combes urge child safety in Whit­sun­days

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

RECOG­NISE, re­act, re­port.

This is what Bruce and Denise Mor­combe want Whit­sun­day chil­dren to do, so that tragedies such as their son Daniel’s can be pre­vented.

It was nine-and-a-half years ago on De­cem­ber 7 that Daniel Mor­combe dis­ap­peared, just 12 days be­fore his 14th birth­day.

Since then, the story of the Sun­shine Coast boy, who was ab­ducted and mur­dered, has touched the en­tire na­tion.

Leav­ing no stone un­turned, the Mor­combes have fought long and hard over the past decade to un­cover the truth about what re­ally hap­pened to their son.

It was only last year that they were fi­nally able to hold a fu­neral when the coroner re­leased Daniel’s re­mains.

But a big part of the Mor­combe’s bat­tle has been about turn­ing their sit­u­a­tion around so that other chil­dren and their par­ents could learn from their mis­for­tune.

Over the past three years the Mor­combes have been vis­it­ing Queens­land schools to de­liver im­por­tant safety mes­sages to the state’s youth.

On Tues­day, they rolled into the Whit­sun­days in their big red bus at the in­vi­ta­tion of Cannonvale State School prin­ci­pal Angie Kelly.

Ms Kelly in­tro­duced Bruce and Denise to a school hall packed with chil­dren, teach­ers and par­ents who lis­tened in­tently to what they had to say

As Bruce ex­plained be­fore the talk, “A teacher or a doc­tor could de­liver the same mes­sages but when we de­liver them you can feel the at­ten­tion of the kids – we bring some­thing to the ta­ble that’s a lit­tle unique”. The Mor­combes’ pre­sen­ta­tion cov­ered recog­nis­ing when a sit­u­a­tion might be un­safe, re­act­ing to it and the im­por­tance of re­port­ing what has hap­pened. .

Bruce Mor­combe spoke about cre­at­ing a safety list of five peo­ple a child could go to, who would lis­ten and want to help them. He also spoke about the dangers of the in­ter­net and Denise asked the chil­dren to go home and delete all the “friends” from their Face­book ac­counts that they didn’t re­ally know.

“Re­mem­ber, most peo­ple out in the com­mu­nity are good and would never hurt us, so do not think ev­ery car driver in the street is an ab­duc­tor,” she said.

“Hav­ing said that, it is im­por­tant to al­ways be ob­ser­vant and trust your in­stincts. If you think it is wrong, it prob­a­bly is.”

Ms Kelly said she in­vited the Mor­combes to the school be­cause she be- lieved the goal posts had shifted in terms of child safety.

“The world is just chang­ing at such a rapid pace and you re­ally have to con­stantly re-in­vent what the mes­sages are in or­der to keep safe,” she said.

“For the most part peo­ple are good, but on rare oc­ca­sions, dan­ger will find us and it’s best to have our chil­dren pre­pared for that.”

STOP: Se­nior Con­sta­ble Ge­of­frey Price and Cannonvale State School's ‘adopt-a-cop’ Con­sta­ble Danni Ash­ley (far left and right), Cannonvale State School prin­ci­pal Angie Kelly (cen­tre back), Bruce and Denise Mor­combe and Cannonvale school cap­tains Lau­ren Flynn and Matthew Tan­tiangco.

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