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Cleo Smith found: Jesinta Franklin on social media interest in missing Indigenous children

Jesinta Franklin has questioned if Cleo Smith would have been found if she was Indigenous as celebrities share their joy at her rescue.

Jesinta Franklin has questioned whether Cleo Smith would have been found if she were Indigenous.

The 30-year-old model and wife of Indigenous AFL superstar Lance Franklin said she was posting her comments to Instagram because “we need to do better for all children who go missing”.

“Without taking away from the joy of finding a missing child alive and well, I can’t help but think about the disparity that exists in this country between missing children who are white and indigenous children when it comes to the visibility and coverage of the case,” she said.

“I have read so many heartbreaking stories of missing indigenous children that garner hardly any media coverage or the social media coverage that a case like Cleo’s did.

“I have no doubt the widespread broadcasting of information in regards to the case assisted the phenomenal efforts of the WA police force in locating this beautiful little girl and reuniting her with her family,” she said.

Franklin is a mum to daughter Tullulah, 20 months, and son Rocky, seven months, who she shares with her husband of five years.

The ABC reported that in December 2019, indigenous people account for 17.5 per cent of all unsolved missing persons cases in Western Australia, despite making up just three per cent of the local population.

In August 2019, the families of 15 missing Aboriginal children united for a statewide rally in NSW to raise awareness for indigenous cases, according to a report by The Guardian.

Cleo was miraculously found alive on Wednesday, 18 days after vanishing from her family’s tent in a remote campsite in Western Australia.

Police broke their way into a locked house in Carnarvon, 75km from where she went missing, about 1am on Wednesday and found the girl in one of the rooms.

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Colonel Blanch confirmed just before 7am AEST that little Cleo is alive and well and had been reunited with her relieved parents.

“One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her ‘what’s your name?’,” he said.

“She said: ‘My name is Cleo’.”

Cleo’s suspected abductor has been taken into custody but no charges have been laid so far.

Celebrities share their delight at Cleo news

Franklin wasn’t the only celebrity affected by the hunt for Cleo and her recovery.

Many others took to social media to express their delight.

The Project’s Carrie Bickmore and Lisa Wilkinson both shed “tears of joy” after hearing the news.

Daniel Morcombe’s mother Denise, also posted a tweet expressing her joy that Cleo had been found alive and well.

In 2003 Denise’s son Daniel was abducted while waiting for a bus on the Sunshine Coast. The 13-year-old, tragically, never returned home, with his remains found in bushland eight years later.

Police reveal no one will receive $1 million reward

A senior police officer has revealed the $1 million reward for information leading to the discovery of Cleo Smith will not be claimed.

Acting Police Commissioner Colonel Blanch said detectives received new information about her location late on Tuesday and moved swiftly to rescue the little girl.

A 36-year-old man with no connection to the family was taken into custody.”‘Intelligence led them to that house. They went into that house, Cleo was in the house alone,” he said.

However, Commissioner Blanch said no one is set to pocket the seven figure sum offered by the state government on the sixth day of the investigation.

Asked by reporters on Wednesday whether he thought the reward would be claimed, he said: “I don’t believe so, no.”


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