Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Two Sisters Campaign
In our role of representatives of our community we're fortunate to meet ordinary people doing extraordinary things sometimes amidst distressing or tragic life events. Over the past few months I've come to know a passionate, driven and remarkable young woman who is working tirelessly to make the world a safer place for children all in honour of her sister Zoe.
Just a few weeks ago Amanda Duncan launched the Two Sisters Campaign born out of a promise she made as a young girl. 'When I was six years old I promised Zoe that one day I would grow up and fix the world which had hurt her so badly,' Amanda said at the launch. That little girl grew up, became a nurse and midwife and is now fiercely determined to change the system from the inside out.
In 2001, at the age of 11, Zoe was raped by a doctor at the Launceston General Hospital. Just as we have heard far too many times from victim survivor stories told at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Zoe's story was not believed by the hospital after the doctor denied the attack and the hospital dismissed the complaint after deeming Zoe was not upset enough for the allegation to be true. Zoe and her parents also faced further challenges when dealing with the police and Tasmania's child protection unit. In the years that followed, Zoe suffered from severe trauma and worsening chronic illness, passing away in 2017 at the young age of 28.
The launch of the Two Sisters Campaign was held on Friday 12 November on what would have been Zoe's 32nd birthday. Amanda and her parents spoke about the impact that Zoe's abuse had on their entire family. It was powerful, confronting and moving to hear their stories and those of other survivors who spoke at the launch. Camille Bianchi's podcast The Nurse, which highlights Zoe's story and those of others who were sexually abused by a nurse at the LGH, has led to an avalanche of other victim survivors speaking out about abuse in other institutions in our state, including the education and juvenile detention system. This has led to our state's current inquiry into child sexual abuse in Tasmanian institutions. I was pleased to see Tasmanian health minister Jeremy Rockliff attend the Two Sisters Campaign launch and not shy away from what is a very difficult issue.
The aim of the Two Sisters Campaign is to ingrain a mantra in institutions of listen, believe, support and report; ensure trauma-informed training across all government agencies; and improve reporting process and transparency within institutions. We must continue to let survivors speak, have their stories heard and make the changes needed to ensure all children are safe. That a child could be abused in a hospital by the very person in charge of their care is beyond comprehension. We all have a collective responsibility to drive change, and Amanda Duncan is helping to lead the way.