Australian mother charged with killing of 8 children in Cairns 'coping as best she can'

This photo taken on Dec 20, 2014 shows people hugging at the scene where eight children ranging from babies to teenagers were found dead in a house in the northern Australian city of Cairns. -- PHOTO: AFP 
This photo taken on Dec 20, 2014 shows people hugging at the scene where eight children ranging from babies to teenagers were found dead in a house in the northern Australian city of Cairns. -- PHOTO: AFP 
People attend a church service to remember eight children who were killed by their mother in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, on Dec 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
People attend a church service to remember eight children who were killed by their mother in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, on Dec 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
People attend a church service to remember eight children who were killed by their mother in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, on Dec 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
People attend a church service to remember eight children who were killed by their mother in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, on Dec 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
This photo taken on Dec 20, 2014 shows a local boy holding a large teddy bear at the scene where eight children ranging from babies to teenagers were found dead in a house in the northern Australian city of Cairns. -- PHOTO: AFP 
This photo taken on Dec 20, 2014 shows a local boy holding a large teddy bear at the scene where eight children ranging from babies to teenagers were found dead in a house in the northern Australian city of Cairns. -- PHOTO: AFP 
People attend a church service to remember eight children who were killed by their mother in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, on Dec 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
People attend a church service to remember eight children who were killed by their mother in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, on Dec 21, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Mourners at the scene where eight children ranging from babies to teenagers were found dead in a house in the northern Australian city of Cairns. The Australian mother charged with killing the eight children will have her case heard in January,
Mourners at the scene where eight children ranging from babies to teenagers were found dead in a house in the northern Australian city of Cairns. The Australian mother charged with killing the eight children will have her case heard in January, a court said on Monday, as she struggles to come to terms with what happened. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian mother charged with killing eight children will have her case heard in January, a court said on Monday, as she struggles to come to terms with what happened.

Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday, 37, also known as Mersane Warria, is accused of eight counts of murder after the bodies of the children were found in a house in the northern city of Cairns on Friday morning.

Seven of them were hers, and she was an aunt to the eighth. The children - four girls and four boys - were aged between two and 14.

The Cairns Magistrates Court refused an application by the women's lawyer Steven MacFarlane for the next hearing on Jan 30 to be in a mental health court.

This is procedural, as Mr MacFarlane said she was currently on an involuntary treatment order and would be assessed, "so once she gets assessed, then it may go to a mental health court at that stage".

Mr MacFarlane said Thaiday, who did not attend the hearing as she remained in a Cairns hospital under police guard with non life-threatening injuries, was still coming to terms with what happened.

"I've spoken to her, she's coping as best she can at the moment," he told reporters outside the court.

"I'm not a doctor, I think she probably knows what's happened but doesn't realise it, it hasn't sunk in, is my personal opinion only."

The hearing came as the local member of the Queensland state Parliament, Mr Gavin King, said the public housing home in the suburb of Manoora where the bodies were found could be demolished and a permanent memorial instead built on the site.

"I started that conversation on Saturday morning down at the site with various family representatives and local residents and various agencies," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Police said on Sunday that crime scene investigators were still working in the house, describing it as a "long process".

"We still have experts there. It will be a long, hard road from here on in," detective inspector Bruno Asnicar said.

Officers have not revealed the cause of death of the children but said they were looking into various scenarios, including suffocation. They also said knives were found at the house.