The ex-partner of Mark Keans, a dying man whose campaign to see his four young kids one last time resonated with millions of Australians, has admitted she’s concerned about the potential reunion.
Mr Keans, 39, was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this year and is currently at his home in Brisbane with doctors admitting he might not make it to Christmas.
The family made headlines last week after the Queensland government refused repeated pleas for a border exemption, sparking outrage across the country.
Mr Keans was told he would have to choose just one of the four children to see him.
All four were later granted exemptions to see him, but only if they did two weeks in hotel quarantine.
Kylie Green, Mr Keans’ ex-partner, told news.com.au she had raised her and Mark’s four children as a single mum since 2016 when he moved from their western Sydney home to Queensland.
Ms Green said their four kids’ mental health had deteriorated in the past week as they sat in the national spotlight and increasingly feared repercussions if they refuse to see “a man they barely know”.
Describing her and Mr Keans’ 10-year relationship as “complicated” and “on and off”, Ms Green said she had worked hard to try and maintain a relationship with the father of her children.
“The last time they saw him properly was on Father’s Day in 2017, a weekend I organised,” Ms Green said.
“The kids are now so worried that if they say no, people will be mad at them.
“I had them crying at me not knowing what to do, it’s causing me and them so much pain, stress and worry.”
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Mr Keans’ mum Rhonda Langborne confirmed to news.com.au the entire family — including Kylie and her four children — had now been granted an exemption to enter Queensland.
However Ms Green said she was first taking her kids to see a child psychologist and would apply for her own border exemption, depending on the report.
Mark’s sister Tamara and his parents Bruce and Rhonda Langborne had offered to drive the four kids up to Queensland themselves but Ms Green said she was hesitant to let her children take the journey without her, knowing “of course they’re going to want their mum”.
Mr Keans’ parents started a GoFundMe last week to raise money for the children to travel to Queensland to see him, with more than $230,000 raised.
Rhonda told news.com.au today that the children would not be travelling with her family to see their father.
“We do have a border pass. We will be seeing Mark by the end of the week. Sadly, the children’s mum has changed her mind, she and the children will not be accompanying us,” Rhonda Langborne said in a text message to news.com.au.
“For the rest of it, we will leave it to the legal teams.”
Ms Green said she had spent days frantically calling around for a child psychologist appointment to get an expert’s opinion on what sort of impact the meeting could have on the four kids.
“If the psychologist tells me they want to go, I’d take them right now,” Ms Green said.
She also says she does not want any of the money raised through GoFundMe.
“We did not need any funding, I wanted it to be done privately and quietly,” she said.
“They’ve grieved their dad once when he moved and then they go and see him die and grieve him again. I’m so worried about their mental health and I’ll be the one left to pick up the pieces.
“My daughter was scared and cried and said ‘Mummy I’m scared to see him’ and my youngest son doesn’t even remember him.”
Ms Green’s youngest son was two-and-a-half when their dad moved to Queensland and is now seven. She also shares 11-year-old twins – a boy and girl – and a 13-year-old son with Mr Keans.
“They all feel so pressured that they have to go and do it.”
Ms Green said she was told on July 25 by the Langbornes her ex-partner had cancer and was going through chemotherapy in Brisbane.
Just over a week later, on August 5, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state was closing its border to NSW again from August 8.
Mr Keans’ condition deteriorated quickly, leading the Langbornes to call Ms Green on the morning of September 9 to tell her he was dying and had one final wish — to see his four children.
Ms Green told them she would discuss it with her children and see how they felt about it.
In a desperate attempt to see their dying son, the Langbornes, who were not getting any concrete answers from the Queensland government, went to the media that afternoon.
The situation quickly turned into a national news story, with photos of the children splashed across Australia’s media by Thursday morning.
“What got to me the most was the very first time we were told Mark had cancer, the kids never said they wanted to go, they had reservations about it,” Ms Green said.
The GoFundMe fundraiser was set up after it was revealed the family would need to pay $16,000 to quarantine in Brisbane before seeing their dad.
The family closed the fundraiser after it raised an incredible $230,000 in just a few days.
On Saturday, Mr Keans’ sister Tamara Langborne said she was engaging lawyers to help her organise the money into trusts for the kids.
“There is a lot of uncertainty about this. As it is a lot more than we had asked for, I personally don’t feel comfortable handling this on my own. We will be taking this legally, and going through those channels for what the fund was created for,” Ms Langborne said.
“As for the accusations we are facing. We are not going to publicly defend ourselves, or retaliate through social grounds as we do not believe this is appropriate for anyone involved.
“We are happy to supply what is needed to the appropriate authorities to clear our names as we have nothing to hide.”
Despite the social media threats for all family involved, Ms Green said she felt compelled to speak out to protect her children.
“At the end of the day, I’m just worried about my kids and their mental health, how traumatic will it be for them. They’ve never seen anybody dying and after seeing something like that…I know they’ll need their mum straight away.”
Ms Green thanked all the Australians who donated to the GoFundMe but said she would rather the money be returned.
“So many more people deserve it more than us, so many people who have already lost someone and couldn’t see them,” she said.
“I’m not saying Mark doesn’t deserve to say goodbye to his kids but I don’t need the money for the kids. We do it tough but the kids have everything they need, they have a roof over their head, they’re well-fed and if we need the money to pay for it, I can take out a loan.”
Through tears, Ms Green said she wasn’t sure what she would say to her ex-partner if they’re to meet face-to-face before his death.
“The whole thing is just so tragic,” she said. “There’s been so many mixed emotions. It wasn’t always horrible with him.
“But I’m so sorry this has happened to my poor kids, they’ve been through so much already and we were finally getting into a bit of better place after everything then this comes up and I feel like we’re back at day one.”
News.com.au has reached out to Rhonda Langborne, Mark’s mum, for comment.
In text messages seen by news.com.au, Ms Langborne told Ms Green she was “sorry” the situation had spiralled out of hand.
“Our wish was not to do any damage but that of trying to get an answer from the Queensland government,” Ms Langborne said in a text to Ms Green.