A heart-wrenching incident has brought to light the profound struggles faced by an Indian-Australian woman who worked as an IT professional in Sydney.
The woman who was in her forties arrived in the Indian city of Bengaluru on August 20 to coach her father in navigating a complex custody battle with the New South Wales, Department of Communities and Justice for her two children, who hold Australian citizenship.
Tragically, she allegedly committed suicide by jumping into the Malaprabha river near Saundatti in Belagavi district of India’s Karnataka state shortly after learning that an online hearing for the custody battle in Sydney had been postponed to November, reported local media.
She was employed as an IT consultant in Sydney and had not reached her home in Dharwad as scheduled after arriving in Bengaluru.
Instead, according to local media reports, she sent a letter to her parents in Dharwad, expressing her decision to end her life allegedly due to the distress she felt over custody issues related to her son and daughter with New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice.
The letter reportedly reads, “Our lives are threatened. I am compelled to end my life for the survival of my children and husband *(name removed). I am accepting my death for the good of my family.”
“DCJ messed up our family from 2021 along with residents of… Sydney,”
A spokesperson for the Department of Communities and Justice told The Australia Today,
“The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of children.”
“DCJ is unable to comment on individual child protection matters for privacy reasons.”
In her last letter, allegedly the woman attributed her decision to her family’s well-being and the challenges she faced in her custody battle.
She accused the department and a section of her neighbours of complicating her life. Her father, who reported her tragic passing to the Indian police, expressed that he did not suspect foul play in her death.
According to her father, the custody battle allegedly stemmed from his grandson’s medical condition, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease classified as an immune disorder.
He said, his daughter was pursuing legal action against doctors for inadequate treatment of her son in a NSW hospital after his condition allegedly worsened due to alleged side effects of the treatment. She filed a complaint against the hospital, however, the doctors allegedly retaliated by filing a complaint with child welfare authorities, accusing her of providing improper care at home, reported local media.
Consequently, allegedly “both her children were taken into the care of the Department of Communities and Justice three years ago.”
The deceased woman’s father elaborated that her distress was compounded by her continuous struggle regarding these issues through legal channels. She had aspirations of moving her children to India and enrolling them in an international school, believing the systems in India would be more suitable for their care.
According to local media reports, upon her arrival in India, she reportedly learned that the an August 22 custody hearing had been postponed to November.
This news allegedly devastated her, as she believed the delays were intentional to avoid granting custody. Her father emphasised that not letting her care for her children was a violation of human rights, and he held the custody battle responsible for her tragic decision.
“A lookout notice was issued against her and her children to prevent them from flying out of Australia,” he said.
The husband of the deceased woman travelled alone to India to conduct her last rites, as the children were unable to accompany him due to document-related issues. He added that the teenagers were sent to the school of the choice of the Australian authorities and the parents had little say since 2021.
The family’s saga underscores the deeply emotional and complex challenges faced by Indian-origin parents entangled in custody battles across international borders.
If you or someone you know needs help, call:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Note: The Australia Today has contacted NSW Minister for Multicultural Affairs and NSW Minister for Communities and Justice. We will update the story as we receive responses.
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