News

Alex's death not in vain

The funeral of Alex Wildman in Lismore 2008.
The funeral of Alex Wildman in Lismore 2008. Jacklyn Wagner

NOTHING can bring back Justine Kelly's son, Alex Wildman, who committed suicide at their Goonellabah home in 2008 after being the victim of bullying at school.

But Friday brought some closure for the family.

Ms Kelly and her husband, Bill Kelly, had planned to take civil action against the NSW Department of Education over the death of their son.

But on Friday the Downing District Court in Sydney heard the matter had been resolved.

The family's solicitor, Greg Walsh, told The Northern Star the department had agreed to a settlement, which involves paying a six-figure sum - possibly close to $1 million - to Alex's family.

It is understood the money will be put into trust account for the two youngest children to access once they turn 18.

Mr Walsh said it had been an emotional time for the whole family.

"Justine, Bill, Josie, Elizabeth and Nathan are just relieved that everything has been settled; it's all over now," he said.

"Alex's siblings need ongoing counselling and support.

"This is something which had the potential to cause terrible harm to the family.

"I am mortified that we had to do this; that we had to take on the Department of Education.

"But we did and we won.

"The family now feels vindicated and will now have the financial help they need into the future.

"You should see their faces. They are so relieved that it's all over."

In July 2008, Justine Kelly found her 14-year-old son dead in the garage of their Goonellabah home.

Allegations emerged that Alex was subjected to relentless school bullying before his death.

Deputy State Coroner Malcolm McPherson held an inquest into Alex's death in 2009 and found bullying by his fellow students at Kadina High School had contributed to his suicide.

Friday's settlement came on the same day as the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.

Mr Walsh said Alex would have been proud of his family.

"He would have been proud because the message is out there now that bullying will not be tolerated," he said.

"People who are being bullied must talk about it and then we won't have anymore tragedies like this."

A spokesman from the Department of Education agreed that Alex's death was a tragedy.

"The NSW Department of Education and Communities offers its condolences to Alex's family and friends," he said.

"The recommendations from the coronial inquiry into Alex Wildman's death are being implemented by the department.

"The terms of settlement in this matter make further comment inappropriate."

Support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 and Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

Topics:  bullying nsw department of education suicide



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