Electric shock girl’s family offered $1m
THE family of a girl who was left with severe brain injuries after getting an electric shock by touching a garden tap have been offered a $1 million payment by the Western Australia Government.
Denishar Woods was 11 years old when she tried to turn off the garden hose, receiving the near-fatal shock at the public housing property where her family lived in Beldon, Perth.
The State Government has offered the payment as an "act of grace" as the family wait for the investigative report by the Office of Energy Safe, which was due last July.
"My family waited with tense anticipation this week for the State Government's decision on the proposal by Housing Minister Peter Tinley for urgent financial support to my Denishar and our family. My family needed this break," mum Lacey Harrison told news.com.au.
"We've done it tough thus far, and in all honesty with the exception of the National indigenous Critical Response Service we've done it alone.
"The Government should have owned responsibility long ago and not have stranded us for so long but right now we're thanking Minister Tinley for doing the right thing."
The family is suing the Government for failing to provide safe and adequate housing to their family. If the court finds the Department of Housing to be at fault they could be eligible for millions of dollars in compensation.
It has been estimated that because of Woods' young age, the final settlement to the family could be many millions of dollars.
Payments to support Denishar for the remainder of her life, including covering specialist medical carers and continuing therapies, could see the payments reach $10-$15 million, according to Gerry Georgatos, the National Co-ordinator of The National Indigenous Critical Response Service (NICRS) which has been supporting the family since the tragic accident.
An act of grace payment occurs when the Government provides "a gift of money" that falls outside of "statutory entitlements".
According to the Western Australia Government, the money would be managed by a public trustee.
If Woods' family went on to win their case against the Government, this act of grace payment would count as part of any money they won.
Denishar Woods' electrocution occurred in March last year, and her brain injuries were catastrophic. The 230-volt shock left her unable to walk or talk.
The family initially requested a settlement of $3.2 million from the Government in September, but this was rejected. At the time, Denishar's mother Lacey Harrison, described the decision as "deplorable".
"We should not be in this deplorable position where we've got to wait years for the compensation," Ms Harrison said.
Mr Georgatos told news.com.au that much of the trauma recovery for the family rested with this week's promised announcement by Minister Tinley.
"Compensation, which absolutely matters, will be due to Denishar for her lifelong care management needs and for a life reduced and also to the mother, Lacey, who let us not us forget was also electrocuted when she tried to pull her daughter off the electrified tap and both were wielded unconscious," Mr Georgatos said.
"Compensation also is due to the six siblings for the impacts and trauma they have endured since this tragedy."