BOWRAVILLE Aboriginal community's relentless campaign to bring to justice the killer of three of their children 23 years ago took another turn this week.
Colleen Walker, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux disappeared over a period of five months between September 1990 and January 1991.
The bodies of 16-year-old Clinton Speedy-Duroux and four-year-old Evelyn Walker were later found in separate bush locations close to the town.
The body of 16-year-old Colleen Walker has never been found but the clothes she was wearing were recovered from the Nambucca River, weighted down with stones.
Members of the NSW Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice arrived in the small Nambucca Valley town on Monday to speak privately to members of the slain children's families and visit some of the sites relevant to the deaths and disappearances of the children.
The committee members are spending two full days in the town and will return next month for two days of public hearings, more if necessary. Further hearings will be held in Sydney, and the committee has already received some 27 written submissions.
The chairman of the committee, David Clarke, said he did not know where the inquiry would lead but was careful to stress that the committee could only work within the parameters set for it, which was "to see and understand the impact of the triple murder on the community and see whether anything can be done in a practical way to help a grieving community".
He would not be drawn on whether this could include a Royal Commission into the deaths or even a retrial, given recent changes to the law of double jeopardy which were influenced by the events at Bowraville.
The three murder cases have never been tried together, although detectives and the community are convinced they are linked.
A white Bowraville man was tried and acquitted of the murder of Clinton Speedy in 1994 and the same man was later acquitted of the murder of Evelyn Greenup following her murder trial in 2006. Nobody has been charged over the disappearance of Colleen Walker.
Community activist Leonie Duroux, Clinton Speedy- Duroux's sister-in-law, said the only thing the community wanted was justice, a comment which was echoed by Evelyn Greenup's mother, Becca Stadhams, and Clinton Speedy-Duroux's father, Thomas Duroux, but all three see the committee inquiry as significant, a hopeful sign that their case is gaining traction in Sydney.
Detective Inspector Gary Jubelin, who has led re-investigation of the murders since 1997, said the committee inquiry was "early days, but a positive step".
The Law and Justice Committee's final report will be presented to the NSW Parliament later this year.