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IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK: Detail in Cleo Smith’s rescue fallout that left Australia feeling uneasy

At the centre of arguably one of the biggest missing person investigations in recent history is innocent four-year-old Cleo Smith – a little girl who loves make-up and collecting rocks.

She had been sleeping in a tent with her family when she was allegedly stolen and kept by a stranger for 18 days, with no clue as to when she would next see her parents or baby sister.

Since Cleo’s miraculous rescue on Wednesday, her ordeal has captivated the nation, and seen public figures racing to give their best wishes.

WA Premier Mark McGowan visited Cleo and her family in Carnarvon on Thursday, later fronting media to discuss his interaction with the little girl, just 36 hours after her rescue.

Mr McGowan told reporters of how he had given Cleo two teddy bears dressed in police uniforms.

He joked they should be named Cameron and Rod, after Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine and Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde.

“I don’t think there’s any need for the Premier to be there. It’s great that he wanted to wish her and her family well, but he could have done that via Zoom,” former Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone toldABCprogram The Drum.

PR expert from InsideOut PR agreed that it was crucial the public “recognise the importance of giving Cleo and her family the space to reconnect privately”.

Touching on backlash following the premier’s visit, Ms Reaney suggested “sending a gift with a personal letter and allowing the family time before a personal visit may have eased some of the negative sentiment”.

She also argued that WA Police “drip feeding” material following the rescue was potentially not ideal for Cleo or her family.

“Rather than drip feeding information by the police, a more detailed account of the culmination of events in due time would appeal to the greater public here,” she said.

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Nicole Reaney, Director of InsideOut PR and founder of influencer agency, #AsSeenOn . Nicole has extensive experience in corporate and consumer PR and Communications and is available to comment on topics.

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