‘Struggling not to be homeless’: Mum of girl who drowned in river
‘Struggling not to be homeless’: Mum of girl who drowned in river

Hippy mum blames drowned toddler for ‘ruining’ her life

THE hippy parents of a baby girl who drowned when she fell off their houseboat claim they have been ordered off the vessel by Child Services with the mum blaming her daughter's death for "ruining" their lives.

In an angry blog entitled "not becoming homeless" mother-of-10 Rebecca Soetekouw said finding a home for the family since her daughter Zeinobiyah drowned while their yacht was moored off Brooklyn earlier this month has been a priority.

"I can't help but get angry - angry at the situation, angry at the government, angry at myself and even angry at Zeinobiyah," she wrote in the post.

"If she hadn't of died, none of this would have happened. Why did it have to happen? This isn't fair."
"But life sometimes isn't fair. Yet I have done enough research into the Universe to know that I can learn from this.

Zeinobiyah, 3, tragically drowned on July 9.
Zeinobiyah, 3, tragically drowned on July 9.

"Right now, I am struggling with this."

Ms Soetekouw said her family of 12 was "struggling not to be homeless" after being forced to relocate from their 7m yacht.

"Child services won't let us move back onto (our boat) Sumbawa," Mrs Soetekouw wrote, on Sunday.

"They have deemed it too small. So now we have lost the only place that we called home, for the last 2.5 years."

Zeinobiyah had been living on board the family's boat, called Sumbawa, for most of her life alongside her parents and 10 siblings.

On Tuesday, July 9, she was reported missing from the boat which was moored at Dead Horse Bay at Brooklyn.

Water police pulled the little girl from the water just after 12.45pm about 100m from the boat, where she had reportedly been floating for about 20 minutes.

Parents Beccie and Steve Soetekouw with two of their children. Picture: Julian Andrews
Parents Beccie and Steve Soetekouw with two of their children. Picture: Julian Andrews

Efforts by emergency services to resuscitate her failed. She was flown to the Children's Hospital at Westmead in a critical condition, but was pronounced dead soon after arrival.

A memorial was held for the little girl on Friday, July 19 which her mum wrote "was perfect in every way".

Police seized the family boat following the tragedy for examination but told the Advocate, on July 17, they had completed the examination and were about to release it.

However, Beccie posted on Sunday that the family of 12 - originally from Tasmania - would not be able to move back on board the boat after spending the past three weeks in emergency housing.

"Everyone wants to go back on the water. We feel Zeinobiyah there now. Her Spirit is in the water and we connect with her there," she wrote.

"But Sumbawa has been ruled out - for us. We did not get a say in that.

"No, we don't want to stay on Sumbawa. But she was our home and now we are not allowed to live on her anymore.

"So now, we are struggling to not be homeless, after everything that has happened."

Ms Soetekouw took also complained their choices had been "taken away" by Child Services officers who had ordered the family into rented accommodation while they meet Maritime demands to make their vessel Sumbawa seaworthy within four weeks.

"We were told that we had four weeks to fix Sumbawa or she would be seized on us, and then we would have to pay $5500 to get her back or she would be destroyed," Ms Soetekouw wrote.

"All our choices had been taken away from us, as well as our daughter.

"They have deemed [the yacht] too small. So now we have lost the only place that we called home, for the last two-and-half years.

"So we have been in emergency housing for the last nearly three weeks. But that cannot happen anymore."

The boat had been moored at Dead Horse Bay before the incident. Picture: Renee Nowytarger
The boat had been moored at Dead Horse Bay before the incident. Picture: Renee Nowytarger

Ms Soetekouw said they will have to leave their emergency housing on Monday and return to their home in Tasmania.

"We left Tasmania, and our house to live a new life. Going back, was a backwards step in our book," she said.

"But we were left with no other choice.

"Child services had also asked that all the kids have check-ups at the local hospital.

"What they said, is because we have a house, that is rented out in Tassie, we are not eligible for housing at all. We needed to look for private rentals.

"Our budget is VERY small, and with so much going to work on Sumbawa (getting her slipped and cleaned in a very short amount of time), we have had little to spare.

"I was devastated, angry, heartbroken, sad, sick and feeling beaten.

"We were emotionally ruined.

"We haven't had anytime to just sit and grieve. We haven't had anytime to just bond as a family, and talk about our life now.

"This is not what we wanted.'



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