Home' Aurora : Aurora April 2011 Contents 6
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"What went wrong in my criminal case
happened mainly because people didn't do
their job well. I was just another domestic,
I wasn't someone important, I wasn't
expected to survive," recalls Donna.
Many people would pour their energy
into salvaging some vestige of the life
they had known, trying to move on from
such a frightful experience. Donna was
the first member of her family to gain
a university education and she had
grown up in straitened circumstances.
The resolve that served her well in her
early years made her determined to see
justice done, and to support others who
had suffered similarly. Donna could no
longer teach, but the teacher in her saw
an opportunity to educate others. In fact
she says freely, "I use my scars as a
The criminal case against Donna's former
partner Garry Clynes (her autobiography
names everyone; John 8:32 says "The
truth will set you free") was stymied by
poor investigation, resulting in evidence
not collected and statements not taken.
It was a turning point for Donna when
she questioned the Crown Prosecutor
and was told:
"We're not here to defend you or represent
you in any way."
"What are you here to do then?"
"We're here to represent the crime
"Wasn't I part of society once?"
Eventually, Clynes was sentenced to fifteen
months in gaol.
Energised, firstly by merely surviving, and
then by the need to bring 'the system' into
line with current thinking, Donna persisted,
and succeeded, in challenging DOCS to
admit negligence, but it wasn't all about
Donna. She also began working to support
victims, saying repeatedly to all who would
listen, "There is nothing domestic about
any type of violence. We do have to have
services for victims, because victims
One initiative that she can take some
credit for is setting up victims' safety
rooms, so that victims of crime did
not have to face offenders outside the
courtroom. Another was highlighting the
need for victim support to be available
Donna also encouraged other victims
to appear in court, telling a woman who
had received burns to 95% of her body:
"Without you in their faces, the Defence
may have a better opportunity to cut a
deal. The jury sees you, you become real
to them. You need to be there."
Recognising too late that her key
relationships with men had been damaging
long before they became physically
abusive, Donna has become an expert
on the early signs of an unhealthy
relationship and continues to do all she
can to educate others to be aware.
Ten years after her assault, Donna was
named "Australian of the Year Local
Hero" for her work as an anti-violence
campaigner and supporter of burns
survivors and victims of crime. Donna has
tirelessly called for changes in the way
various government departments operate
and along the way, become a confident
and effective speaker and advocate.
As always, the most important element of
Donna's life is her family -- sons Coe and
Bodean, and now grandson Zane. Writing
her book, painful as it was, was a way of
ensuring that the truth would be known,
long after she was able to keep telling
Artist Dave Thomas' painting, "Donna
Carson -- Survivor", featured on our
cover, was an entry in the 2010 Archibald
Prize. Donna is now committed to taking
the portrait to the public as a means of
educating, raising awareness and raising
funds for local refuges for women and
children made homeless.
The fire has never left Donna Carson ---
but the last section of her autobiography,
Judas Kisses, is titled "Resurrection".
"There is nothing
domestic about any
type of violence.
We do have to have
services for victims,
You are invited to attend
The Annual Ecumenical
Way of the Cross
The Way of the Cross follows the Liturgies of Hope and
Healing led by Bishop Michael Malone throughout
the diocese during Lent, and looks forward to the
celebration of Easter.
Sunday 10th April 2011
In the grounds of the Conference Centre,
near St Joseph's Church and School,
140 Wangi Road, Kilaben Bay.
Please stay and enjoy afternoon tea provided by St Joseph's Parish Toronto.
For further information, please contact Sarah Lonsdale on 4979 1111.
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