Smoking ceremony held in Bunbury, WA to mourn 11yo who took her own life

Family members of an 11-year-old who took her own life after the man accused of sexually abusing her was released on bail have attended a smoking ceremony held in Bunbury, in WA’s South West.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains the name and image of a person who has died.

Annaliesse Ugle self-harmed earlier in the week after the man accused of sexually abusing her, Peter Frederick Humes, was released on bail.

A smoking ceremony was held in Bunbury on Sunday to pay respects to Annaliesse, five days after her life support was turned off.

More than 100 people turned out to the vigil, including family members.

Her uncle, Phillip Ugle, was among those at the event and remembered Annaliesse as a lovely girl who was always smiling.

“I have always treated my brothers and sisters kids as my own kids and helped where I could,” he said.

Annaliesse’s uncle, Phillip Ugle, said he took on a pivotal role in his niece’s life after the death of her father earlier in the year.

“I used to always spoil her. She was a lovely kid.”

Mr Ugle said he hoped people took something away from Annaliesse’s death.

“I hope that this encourages parents to talk to their children — listen to their children,” he said.

“Make them understand that it’s OK to approach them and say what’s happening.

The circumstances of her death and allegations raised are still the subject of investigations but the allegations prompted calls for cultural change and changes to WA’s bail act that would see people accused of multiple child sex offences denied bail.

Annaliesse is expected to be buried in the South West with her father.

A sign saying 'Justice for Annaliesse' and a memorial set up in Bunbury.
The smoking ceremony was part of a vigil held for Annaliesse Ugle.(ABC South West: Jacqueline Lynch)

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Aunt of 11yo girl who took her own life calls for cycle of silence around sexual abuse to end

The aunt of a young girl who took her own life after the man accused of sexually abusing her was released on bail, says the abuse her niece allegedly suffered mirrors that experienced by many children in Western Australia’s Indigenous community.

Life support for the woman’s 11-year-old niece Annaliesse Ugle was turned off earlier this week.

The man accused of abusing Annaliesse, Peter Frederick Humes, is due to appear before the courts in early December. He is yet to enter a plea.

For legal reasons, Ms Abraham cannot speak about the details of that case because it will soon be heard in court.

However she said she wanted to break the cycle of silence within the Indigenous community around child abuse generally.

“We are still not dealing with the real issue, the real issue why all these young kids are taking their own lives is because we have had family thinking they can touch you, abuse you, sexually, molest you,” Ms Abraham said.

“The shit like that we had to grow up with it becomes normalised and you get told to ‘hush hush’ and not make trouble because you will start a turf war within families.”

Carina Abraham says the alleged abuse her niece Annaliesse suffered is something too common in Indigenous communities that must be stamped out.(Supplied)

Ms Abraham said she was sexually abused as a child, by a different man, and did not report her own assault until her early twenties.

“My cousins who were also victims couldn’t come forward with me, they were either too scared or had been talked out of it,” Ms Abraham said.

“It wasn’t until my other cousin got the courage to come forward that we got justice, but when you’re that one voice on your own, you don’t get justice.”

‘Fly-in fly-out approach’ leaves victims vulnerable

Noongar woman and Curtin Law School Associate Professor Hannah McGlade said previous investigations into sexual assault within Indigenous communities had done little more than left victims vulnerable.

Ms McGlade said findings of the 2002 Gordon Inquiry were initially viewed as a watershed moment for the Indigenous community, but it was still waiting for the implementation of many of its recommendations.

She said one of those key recommendations which had not been implemented was the creation of a ‘one-stop shop’ department to deal with reports of abuse.

“This fly-in, fly-out approach where non-Indigenous police come in and bring out the abuse in communities and then leave does nothing to improve safety for victims,” Ms McGlade said.

“The primary support needs to be the investment into community-based response and the one stop model. We have not been assisted by our state governments to take those appropriate responses.”

WA Police vow to take ownership

Regional Assistant Police Commissioner Jo McCabe said on Wednesday that an early assessment of Annaliesse Ugle’s case indicated police bail should not have been granted to her alleged abuser.

“In general, bail is considered on a case by case basis and aligned with the bail act, however an early assessment of this case, and the seriousness of the offences, tells me that police bail should have been opposed and not considered,” she said.

Jo McCabe speaking to reporters at police headquarters.
Assistant Commissioner Jo McCabe says an initial assessment indicates bail should have been opposed.(ABC News: Jessica Warriner)

“This will ultimately be a matter for the coroner, but I’m here today to say that WA Police will take ownership of any issues where we can improve to prevent something like this occurring again.”

Communities Minister Simone McGurk said it was a priority to find out what supports were in place for the girl and what went wrong, while Health Minister Roger Cook said the Government was likely to review the handling of the case.

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Vigil to demand justice for allegedly sexually abused 11yo girl who took her own life

Hundreds of people are expected to attend a vigil for 11-year-old Annaliesse Ugle, who took her own life after her alleged sex abuser was granted bail.

The indigenous girl was taken to Perth Children’s Hospital after self-harming on Monday, but died after her life support was switched off the following day.

The girl, from a small town south of Perth, was allegedly sexually abused multiple times by a 66-year-old man, who cannot be named, from 2014 to 2020.

National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project co-ordinator Gerry Georgatos said the vigil would be held at WA parliament from 5pm Thursday.

Mr Georgatos supported about 100 loved ones who gathered at the hospital to say goodbye to Annaliesse and said his focus remained on the family as they grieved their loss.

“It can be a brutal public spectacle,” he said.

Annaliesse’s mother gave birth to six children and has four surviving offspring, the youngest aged seven, Mr Georgatos said.

The man accused of abusing Annaliesse has been charged with six counts of indecently dealing with a child and five counts of sexually penetrating a child.

Police on Wednesday admitted they were wrong to release him on bail after he was charged.

Six days later, he was granted bail in court, and police are now investigating an allegation he breached his bail conditions.

The man is currently scheduled to face court again in December.

Annaliesse’s family is continuing to demand justice and are hoping for changes to the law to prevent someone like the accused being granted bail.

But Attorney-General John Quigley said on Wednesday that from the information he had the tragedy was not caused by a deficiency in the Bail Act.

The WA Coroner’s Court has confirmed there will be an inquest into Annaliesse’s death.

* Annaliesse’s family gave permission to publish her picture.

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