Family takes fight for justice to Canberra


RELATIVES of a teenage girl who died after she was sexually assaulted in a remote Territory community say they believe she was murdered.

Cheron Long will take the fight for justice for her cousin Layla Leering to Canberra today, saying she's determined not to let her death be swept under the carpet.

"I came to Canberra to be a voice for the silent victims out in remote communities," she said.

Layla was one of three teenagers whose suspected suicides were investigated by Coroner Greg Cavanagh last year.

During the inquest, police conceded their investigation into Layla's death was inadequate.

The investigation has since been reopened after Mr Cavanagh referred the matter back to police and the director of public prosecutions.

"I believe that she got murdered and not suicide," Ms Long said.

"These things need to be addressed properly."

Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker yesterday confirmed the investigation into Layla's death was ongoing and that her case had prompted a review of police processes.


Jacinta Price, Cheron Long and Meesha Long. Picture: SUPPLIED
Jacinta Price, Cheron Long and Meesha Long. Picture: SUPPLIED

Ms Long said she wanted to take her cousin's story to Canberra to show the nation's leaders the shocking levels of domestic violence and sexual abuse faced by Aboriginal women.

"Every day, it's fuelled by alcohol a lot, constantly, woman are getting bashed by their partner," she said.

Ms Long said she had left Bulla with her five siblings and two children to live in Queensland to escape the social dysfunction she had faced in the community.

She also said she had been ostracised for trying to bring attention to Layla's case.

"It's very hard when you're kept silenced," Ms Long said.

Mother of 15-year-old Layla
Mother of 15-year-old Layla "Gulum" Leering, Justine Jingles outside the Darwin Local Court during an inquest into her death in 2020. Picture: Che Chorley

"They turn their back on you when you want to express issues, they just turn their back the other way."

Alice Springs deputy mayor and Centre for Independent Studies director of Indigenous programs Jacinta Price will join Ms Long in Canberra as they make a presentation to federal politicians today.

Ms Price put the issue of family violence and sexual abuse suffered by Aboriginal women in the spotlight with a moving speech she made at the National Press Club in 2016.

And while Canberra has been focused on sexual assault allegations within its own ranks this month, Ms Price said the voices of Australia's most vulnerable women should not be forgotten.

"It's very, very frustrating that our voices are largely ignored, that the western feminist movement ignores our voices because we belong to a different ethic group," she said.

"We're still Australian citizens and we still want the kind of support that we've seen in the last couple of weeks around sexual assault."

Originally published as Family takes fight for justice for heartbreaking death to Canberra


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