Dad calls for witnesses to death
THE tears still flowed as Mullumbimby marked the first anniversary of the tragic death of Jai Morcom following a playground brawl at Mullumbimby High School last year.
In a moving minute of silence at 11am outside the school, Jai's father, Steve Drummond, spoke to hundreds about the pain of the past year, his frustration with authorities and his hope the coronial inquest, set for January in Lismore, will provide answers and healing.
He again repeated his call for any witnesses to come forward.
“The reality is that a person's life has been taken and for the emotional growth of any student there that day, either directly involved as a witness or a perpetrator, the truth can be your savoir,” he said.
“He was a beautiful, peaceful kid, but we have a tragedy on our hands and there's still unfinished business – it's not ready for closure yet, but we hope it's on the way with the inquest.”
The tragedy has had a traumatic effect on the small town of Mullumbimby and its high school, and one year on, the community is still struggling to come to terms with it.
Ceremonies were held inside and outside the school, illustrating continuing tensions.
Mr Drummond declined to attend the school's services and the school, while it did invite family members, did not allow other community members inside.
“They had a good little tree planting ceremony in there for Jai with the Year 10 kids, which is a fantastic thing, I've no problem with that, but I was disappointed the principal wouldn't get the whole school together for the minute's silence ... but this allowed the community to come together out here,” Mr Drummond said.
“I've very dissatisfied with the way the school's handled things internally; I've received no satisfactory response or apology or explanation about anything regarding Jai.
“I lost him, and it was through a cloud of violence and I want to know as a father what happened.”
Mullumbimby High School principal Ian Graham said it had been a difficult day, but an opportunity to pay respects and honour Jai's memory.
“What we've done is hold a memorial ceremony involving Jai's closest friends and all of Year 10, planted a tree in his honour and unveiled a memorial plaque,” he said.
“Then the rest of the school held a minute's silence in their classrooms.
“We've provided extra counselling support for students in the school, but there is definitely still sadness with this particular situation.
“We had what we believe was a very robust welfare and discipline system in the school even at the time of the incident, but we have taken the opportunity to reflect deeply on what happened and we've put a number of programs in place.”