Woman who became obsessed with a ‘dark family secret’ shares the DOCS papers that revealed her past


Kristal Walker could feel her heart pounding in her chest as she held the letter gingerly in her hands. 

After searching for the truth for twelve years her question was about to be answered but she couldn’t ignore the impending feeling of dread.

Ms Walker was just 18 years old when a family member blurted out that ‘something bad’ had happened to her as a child on the porch of her Adelaide home.

Despite begging everyone and anyone to tell her what it was, the incident remained a dark family secret for more than a decade.

Kristal Walker (pictured), 33, applied for documents under the Freedom of Information Act from the Department of Family and Community Services in 2017 after spending 12 years trying to unearth the truth about what happened to her during her childhood

Kristal Walker (pictured), 33, applied for documents under the Freedom of Information Act from the Department of Family and Community Services in 2017 after spending 12 years trying to unearth the truth about what happened to her during her childhood

A doctor's report warned 'further damage to this child is inevitable' if the legal system did not take action

A doctor’s report warned ‘further damage to this child is inevitable’ if the legal system did not take action

In a desperate bid to find out the truth Ms Walker used Freedom of Information laws to obtain documents from the Department of Family and Community Service (FACS) in October 2017.   

Speaking exclusively to Daily Mail Australia, Kristal said she knew she was about to find out something terrible when she got a phone call from a public servant almost a year later. 

‘The woman [from FACS] called me the day before they arrived to give me a heads up,’ Ms Walker told Daily Mail Australia.

‘She said,”be prepared, it’s pretty graphic”.’ 

In February 2018, the papers finally landed in the mailbox of her Perth home, where she has lived the past eight years. 

Inside were horrific photos showing Ms Walker at 22 months, beaten black and blue, with her eyes swollen shut.

The photographs had been taken at Maitland Hospital, in NSW, just minute away from her then home.   

Documents unearthed under Freedom of Information laws (F0I) included horrific images of Kristal aged 22 months brutally bashed with blackened eyes in Maitland Hospital, in the NSW Hunter Valley

Documents unearthed under Freedom of Information laws (F0I) included horrific images of Kristal aged 22 months brutally bashed with blackened eyes in Maitland Hospital, in the NSW Hunter Valley 

A relative let slip to Ms Walker in 2006, when she was 18-years-old, that 'something bad happened' when she was a child (pictured aged two, in 1989)

A relative let slip to Ms Walker in 2006, when she was 18-years-old, that ‘something bad happened’ when she was a child (pictured aged two, in 1989)

The relative had alluded to a violent altercation but had stopped short of providing solid details. Ms Walker had no idea what to expect. 

‘My partner opened it first and looked at the pictures and I saw his eyes tearing up,’ she said. 

‘I went and had a look myself 30 minutes later. It wasn’t what was I was expecting, but I guess I didn’t know what to expect.

‘I felt quite numb. But after a while, once I had read over it a few times, it started to become real.’ 

Hospital records indicated Ms Walker was too distraught that night for doctors to complete a full physical examination

Hospital records indicated Ms Walker was too distraught that night for doctors to complete a full physical examination 

The horrendous images were accompanied by doctors’ reports warning ‘further damage to this child is inevitable’ if the legal system did not take action. 

‘There are absolutely no doubt these injuries were inflicted by an adult,’ the report read.

‘I am most concerned that the legal system does not see it’s primary responsibility as protecting this child from further injury and fear that despite all of our best efforts that further damage to this child is almost inevitable’. 

A follow up medical completed four days after the initial hospital visit concluded her injuries were potentially fatal, but she had luckily escaped brain damage. 

Daily Mail Australia does not suggest Ms Walker’s mother or her mother’s then boyfriend committed the attack.  

Ms Walker pictured with Santa at seven-months-old in December, 1987

Ms Walker pictured with Santa at seven-months-old in December, 1987

A doctor's report noted Ms Walker's injuries were potentially fatal and she had fortunately escaped brain damage

A doctor’s report noted Ms Walker’s injuries were potentially fatal and she had fortunately escaped brain damage

While mediation can be fast tracked if certain procedures are met, several sections of Ms Walker’s freedom of information documents have been redacted, or are not included, leaving huge chunks of missing details in the timeline of events. 

She still does not know what processes occurred that allowed the care plan to be terminated early. 

‘Sometimes they create more questions than answers,’ Ms Walker said of the papers.

Ms Walker pictured at five years old, while living in Victoria

Ms Walker pictured at five years old, while living in Victoria 

‘There is just a black gap there in the process that I don’t know.’ 

Ms Walker wants the matter re-investigated but has been told that the initial police report is required.

She has contacted Maitland and Raymond Terrace Police, but both stations told her they can not find a report on the attack in their systems. 

‘I can’t even find out if it was investigated, because I was shut down and told I didn’t exist,’ she said.

Ms Walker, who did not come to terms with the seriousness of the reports right away, still has bouts of emotions while reflecting on what happened to her as a child.  

‘I’ll still have moments you know, while I’m getting on with life, like washing the dishes, that I get teary and upset because I had shut my emotions out for so long,’ she said.  

Shortly after the discovery, she battled with alcoholism as a coping mechanism, but pulled herself out of the dark place early last year. 

After already completing a diploma of counselling, she is now studying criminology and criminal justice and is looking forward to marrying her fiancé Michael Kurgan, 43, later this year.

‘I have gone through difficult things in life, but now they make sense,’ she said.

Ms Walker met Michael Kurgan, 43, after moving to Perth in 2010. The couple plan to marry later this year

Ms Walker met Michael Kurgan, 43, after moving to Perth in 2010. The couple plan to marry later this year

‘I’d never take it any of it back though, because it’s made me who I am.’ 

Ms Walker is still searching for answers and urges anyone who may know anything about the incident or details about her early childhood to come forward.  

Authorities were unable to ascertain who committed the vile attack and, to this day, no one has been charged.  

She hopes speaking out will encourage those who know about incidents of child abuse and domestic violence to report it to authorities.  

‘People don’t talk about child abuse and it’s not okay to sit on it and hide it.’ 

‘Evil is harming children and Australians need to know.’

‘If you see you something say something. It is as simple as that.’ 

She is now the proud step mother of 13-year-old Emma Kurgan (pictured together at Ms Walker's graduation)

She is now the proud step mother of 13-year-old Emma Kurgan (pictured together at Ms Walker’s graduation)

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Manoj Prajapati

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