Our campaign began on the 19th of February 2016 at around 11pm when Katherine discovered that her own precious son, Jakob Oakey, had died by suicide despite 5 years desperately attempting to save Jakob from systemic failure by the ACT Government, Qld Child Safety and Police, mental health and domestic violence issues.
I discovered Jakob had died when a close friend frantically bashed on my window at around 11pm on the Friday 19th of February 2016 after reading messages such as “RIP” on Jakob’s facebook page. Within about 1/2 an hour that my worst nightmare was confirmed and I have not, and never will, wake up from this night terror. That day changed the course of our family’s lives forever. Grief is a very personal circumstance – and it is a circumstance, it’s a journey.
Jakob was an extremely funny, handsome, genuine, soft hearted, caring, amazing young man who was taken from us far too soon. Jakob could no longer live with the pain and he had battled courageously for years to fight his demons. Demons that were not of his chosing and not because of any fault that lay with him. Jakob was diagnosed with diabetes, he was moved 1800kms away from the only family he had ever known, he was then abused, abandoned and neglected. Jakob’s death was preventable and unnecessary. Jakob may have chosen his end play but the course he was placed on by the ACT Government and other organisations resulted in Jakob having to make that choice.
Within 24 hours we were moving to ensure Jakob came home as this was our first priority. Jakob needed to be honoured in a way that he was not in life and nothing was going to stop myself or my parents in bringing our boy back to us. . I insisted that I would carry Jakob on his last walk and I insisted it would be with full honours by the pall bearers – over the shoulders (this is where the #honourjakob came from).
Our Aboriginal brother and sisters have always held a very special place in my heart and our local Elder and Aboriginal advocate, Shane Mortimer, who has been a great source of strength to us in our attempts to help Jakob live, welcomed Jakob back to Canberra at his funeral. Jakob is not of Native heritage but he is indigenous to our region of Canberra as he was born here.
Jakob’s funeral was a celebration of the life he had and the joy he brought… the fall out from the injustice bestowed upon our beautiful boy would come in the months ahead but as for that day, we remembered him, we honoured him and we cherished our memories.
Justice for Jakob was started with a small picture that simply read “Justice for Jakob 1997-2016” and a Facebook page of friends and family. My son was no longer alive but there was no way I was about to let him die either. Today J4J is speaking through the East Coast of Australia from Cairns to Tasmania and joined with many voices seeking change for our children. We have begun speaking with SA voices and have members in WA as we break down the borders on a mission to effect change to prevent more needless and preventable deaths, abuse and neglect due to Government decisions and failings across our land.
I never believed for a second when I started a memorial group in honour of my child that he would drive me through my grief, governing my step with his legacy… I am simply a mother… a mother who loves her only son… a mother who hopes that no other mother would have this happen to them…
Behind Closed Doors an ABC Special Presentation was 6 months in the making with Ewan Gilbert. In the last few months of making we were very grateful to be joined by Bradyn Dillon’s beautiful Mum Rachel in the documentary. https://youtu.be/19CHfEM0Z50
Jakob was sent to his father in Qld, as Ewan Gilbert points out in the presentation, against advise and to a violent criminal offender who was likely to be a “significant risk” to Jakob according to CYPS Canberra own files. This resulted in Jakob being abused and placed from care home to care home and eventually to a homeless shelter and then his own flat. Despite the government substantiating Jakob’s abuse they did not offer him proper care to recover from it. Jakob was found having taken a massive overdose of insullin and had written in a note book or journal prior to his death.
The report criticising the Government’s failings prior to Jakob’s death by the Children’s Commissioner is as follows: