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Cairns victims buried together

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Eight children who died in one of the Australia’s most horrific mass murders will be laid to rest together in far north Queensland in the New Year.

The four boys and four girls, aged between two and 14 years, were found dead in a home in Manoora, Cairns, last week.

A steady stream of family members, friends and community supporters has since visited a park opposite the Murray Street house to pay their respects.

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The “unprecedented tragedy” had directly impacted many families, the grandfather of seven of the children, Rod Willie, said on Wednesday.

“We are mindful of the shocking impact this incident has beyond our community, nationally and internationally, and we appreciate the support demonstrated and respect shown to our families during this very trying time,” he said.

In the family’s first public statement since charges were laid over the deaths, Mr Willie urged the wider community to band together over the Christmas period.

Families should hold each other dear on such occasions, Mr Willie said.

“Children are the most vulnerable of our society, whose innocent lives deserve the greatest of love and care,” he said.

“Cherish them.”

No date had yet been set for funeral ceremonies and the focus remained on supporting traumatised family members and adhering to cultural protocols, he said.

“(We will) lay to rest our eight loved ones, together, here in Cairns, early in the New Year.”

Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday, 37, has been charged with the murders of her seven children and her niece.

She remains under police guard in hospital after her case was adjourned during a hearing on Monday.

Ms Thaiday’s lawyer unsuccessfully appealed to have the case heard in the mental health court.

Plans to demolish the house, which remains a crime scene, and to replace it with a permanent memorial have been discussed.

While not a cultural practice, it was recognised that nobody would want to live in the home, far north Queensland community advocate Yodie Batzke said.

“The agenda for the demolition should involve both family and community consultation,” she said.

“The traditional owners of that country have yet to decide whether to conduct a smoking ceremony on the property.”

A Torres Strait Islander elder had advised that the most appropriate time to bring the house down would be on the same day that the victims were laid to rest, Ms Batzke said.


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