Australian Story on ABC
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Tonight | Australian Story on ABC and ABC iview

Australian Story on ABC – When Mechelle Turvey’s 15-year-old son Cassius died following an attack on the way home from school, people rallied around the country in outrage and despair. Mechelle, who had lost her husband Sam just over a month before, could have succumbed to anger. Instead, she called for calm.  

“I didn’t want any more violence,” she tells Australian Story. “I didn’t want hatred and I didn’t want Aboriginal people again to be stereotyped as uncontrollable and violent. I wanted to bring unity among everyone.” 

What anger Mechelle felt was initially directed at the WA Police, who she felt had responded inadequately in the aftermath of Cassius’s death. When Homicide Detective Steve Cleal first came to her door, she gave him a piece of her mind.  

“There was a definite phase where I had to earn her trust,” Detective Cleal tells Australian Story. “She needed a punching bag to hit and to get that off her chest. And it needed to be dealt with.” 

Over the following months, as Detective Cleal accompanied her to court hearings and kept her abreast of developments in the case, the pair developed an unlikely friendship.  

“I just like the bloke,” Mechelle says. “He’s a friend. I don’t believe I said that, but he has become a friend.” 

Mechelle’s dignity and compassion in the face of unimaginable loss and her insistence on finding a better way forward earned her respect around the country and caught the eye of WA police Commissioner Col Blanch. He asked her to design a training program for police recruits and gave her a job in the police community liaison division. She was also named Western Australian of the year for her community work. 

Producers: Olivia Rousset and Karla Hart. 

Australian Story on ABC and ABC iview – Monday 26 February, 2024 at 8:00pm

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Australian Story on ABC

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