Four hours after Karmah died, her mum found out via a Facebook post.


The biological family of a teenage girl who suicided in foster care is demanding answers from authorities after learning of her death on Facebook.

Karmah Jayne Hall, 14, took her own life in September at her foster parents’ property north-west of Sydney.

The family said authorities failed to keep Karmah safe and had kept them in the dark about her death ever since.

They were also alarmed that her foster father had been investigated over abuse allegations made by another foster child in his care.

Karmah was removed from her birth family’s care at 11 months of age because her father was violent towards her mother, Donna Rathborne.

“They came and literally tore her out of my arms, which to this day I won’t ever forget that feeling,” Ms Rathborne said.

Karmah Hall. Image via Facebook.

Ms Rathborne had access visits with her daughter over the years, but Karmah remained with the same foster family until she ended her life in a shed at their rural property in Kenthurst.

Karmah went missing on September 2 but her body was not discovered until three days later.

Ms Rathborne said her family learned about the death on Facebook.

“My daughter Kate rang me and said, ‘Mum, I’ve just seen on Facebook – Rest In Peace, Karmah,” Ms Rathborne said.


“I inboxed the young boy and he said, ‘I’m in Cairns and my mother just told me that Karmah committed suicide’.

“I said, ‘No that’s not right. It’s just not right’.”

Ms Rathborne said she rang the foster agency, Wesley Dalmar and Family and Community Services, but they would not confirm the death.

Her daughter, Kate, then rang Karmah’s school principal, who confirmed the news.

“It was devastating. I mean I still find it hard to believe. No-one has officially told me,” Ms Rathborne said.

“She was found 11:00am Friday morning. I found out at 3 o’clock Friday afternoon.

“They already had counsellors at school for the kids, but not for me. And not her sisters and her brother.”

Ms Rathborne said her family had not been allowed to listen to a final phone message Karmah left for loved ones.

“We’re not just some other people. We’re her family,” Ms Rathborne said.

“I refuse to be some second-hand Rose. I’m her mother. I deserve some respect.”

Since the death, Ms Rathborne has learned of past complaints made about Karmah’s foster father.

When contacted by the ABC, he confirmed that in 2012 the New South Wales Ombudsman investigated allegations that he abused another 12-year-old girl in his care.


He said the girl made the complaints five years after she had stayed with him and the Ombudsman had concluded there was “no case to answer”.

He said the placement of the girl had not worked out and that, as a male foster carer, he was an easy target for vexatious abuse claims.

Karmah and her mother, Donna Rathborne. Image via ABC.

NSW Deputy Ombudsman Steve Kinmond said his office was investigating Karmah’s death and had offered to assist Ms Rathborne and her children.

He was unable to release the 2012 Ombudsman’s report relating to the other child because of secrecy provisions.

Karmah’s foster father said her suicide took everyone in his family by surprise.

“We really don’t know what happened,” he said.

“She was a happy, healthy, fun-loving girl until New Year’s Eve. She disappeared for three days and then went downhill from there. But there wasn’t anything obvious that was affecting her.

“She left a message for everybody. She said she was very, very tired and just wanted to go to sleep.”

Serious questions have also been raised about the management of Karmah’s foster care by Wesley Dalmar.


Karmah was under the care of a psychologist and had been prescribed medication.

Her foster father said they had been prevented from giving her the medication because of the foster agency’s “red tape”.

Ms Rathborne said her family felt Karmah had been let been down by the authorities she had trusted to manage her foster care placement.

Minutes of a meeting to discuss Karmah’s progress noted she was turning up to school unwashed and dishevelled and had run away from her foster home repeatedly.

“With all these [people] around her, caring for her, all she needed was us,” Ms Rathborne said.

“I trusted them. I had to. They let her go. They dropped the ball, because of non-care, because they didn’t act.”

Police are preparing a report for the coroner.

The Department of Family and Community Services and Wesley Dalmar declined to comment while the police investigation was underway.

If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty or thinking about suicide, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

This article was originally published by The ABC and has been republished with full permission. You can view the original article here.