Children at centre of campaign to visit dying father in Queensland being used politically, says uncle | Australia news

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The uncle of four children at the centre of a highly-publicised crowdfunding campaign in relation to the Queensland border restrictions says his family has been unwittingly used by others pushing a political agenda.

The campaign to help the New South Wales-based children visit their dying father, 39-year-old Mark Keans, in Brisbane, raised roughly $231,000, including $1,000 from the prime minister, Scott Morrison.

A GoFundMe page was set up with Keans’ sister, Tamara Langborne, as the beneficiary. It had the stated objective of covering the costs of travel and quarantine for the children and Keans’ parents. That was estimated at between $16,000 and $20,000.

The story prompted widespread condemnation of the Queensland government’s strict border closures and its initial refusal of a border exemption request.

But the children’s uncle, Daniel Green, has told Guardian Australia the children and their mother did not even know about the crowdfunding campaign when the stories first appeared in the national media.

The children’s mother, Kylie Green, said on Tuesday the children had not seen their father – who left the family in 2016 – for years.

She said they had reservations about seeing him, were traumatised by the media attention, and that, while she was grateful for the money raised, she didn’t need it to take her children to Queensland.

Daniel Green said: “My sister found out her kids were on the news from a family friend ringing on the Thursday afternoon saying ‘Why are your kids on the news?’

“The story running was that the kids were begging to go see him [their father],” he said. “The kids haven’t even been questioned about this whole situation yet. Now my sister is trying to talk to them.”

The situation, less straightforward than first reported, highlights the dangers of politicising a family’s story. Morrison on Sunday was criticised for attacking Queensland authorities for barring Canberra nurse Sarah Caisip from attending the funeral of her father, Bernard Prendergast.

Daniel Green said he felt sorry for Morrison. He said the prime minister’s donation showed he had become caught up in a story that was more complex than he realised.

Kylie Green said on Tuesday she wanted to be present with her children when they went to visit their father. “We did not need any funding – I wanted it to be done privately and quietly,” she told News Corp.

“They’ve grieved their dad once when he moved and then they go and see him die and grieve him again. I’m so worried about their mental health and I’ll be the one left to pick up the pieces.”

Daniel Green said the initial stories were run without seeking any comment from the children’s mother.

“I’ve got political people, media and everybody using my niece and nephews’ picture to push whatever agenda they want and not once has anybody tried to contact my sister,” he said. “Then when we start ringing around to try and put her side out, no-one wants a bar of it.”

He said their ordeal was now being used to push a political agenda.

“It’s not only one person using it for their agenda,” he said. “There’s a whole heap of people who have got involved to use this situation, which, if they had have verified the facts first, they would have realised ‘This isn’t a situation that I should be using for my agenda’ because it doesn’t suit their agenda.”

The Queensland government has since issued border exemptions for the children and for Keans’ parents.

The GoFundMe fundraiser has since been paused. A GoFundMe spokeswoman said the company was in contact with Keans’ family to complete the standard verification process.

“Funds will only be released once this process is complete, which includes verifying beneficiaries and use of funds in line with our terms of service,” she said.

It is also understood that refunds can be offered to donors if the money is not going to be used for the intended purpose.

Keans’ sister wrote on the GoFundMe page that any leftover money would go into trust accounts for the children.

“As it is a lot more than we had asked for, I personally don’t feel comfortable handling this on my own,” Langborne wrote. “We will be taking this legally, and going through those channels for what the fund was created for.”

She rejected any suggestion that the family was responsible for a “cash grab”, writing: “There is a lot of twisted and misinformation of truths within this to fit their own narrative.”

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Children at centre of campaign to visit dying father in Queensland being used politically, says uncle | Australia news

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