Alumni News Articles

Australia's Local Heroes release books about their courageous stories

21 May 2007

Donna Carson won Australia 's Local Hero Award after she found herself the victim of a crime which changed her life. During an argument with her then partner, Donna was doused in petrol and set alight. She spent five and half months in hospital, 15 months in rehabilitation and underwent 19 operations. Donna has now gone on to become advocate for victims of crime, burns survivors and survivors of domestic violence.

Her book Judas Kisses, written by Debbie Ritchie, details her fight for survival in Westmead hospital after the horrific attack, as well as her struggle with the Department of Community Services. It also tells of Donnas' fight to regain custody of her children, and her confrontation with the legal system over her attacker's trial and sentencing.

Australia's Local Hero 2006 Toni Hoffman spent two years raising her concerns about patient safety in the Bundaberg hospital, which brought about the exposure of Dr Patel. Dr Patel became a nationwide news item in Australia during 2005 being given the title 'Dr Death'. Toni's book Sick to Death, written by Hedley Thomas, details the constant struggle of staff to report malpractice in a small hospital and brings together all the people who had a part to play in exposing Dr Patel and have been affected by his mistreatment.

'All the nurses in intensive care were seeing all these patients die and we could not do anything… We just thought, "what on earth can we do to stop this man?" We took to hiding patients and telling them they should ask to be sent to Brisbane; we were telling them things we shouldn't be saying," Toni said.

Toni's ethics and values would not allow her to walk away from the problems she identified and she placed her concern for patients and their families above her own well being. There are many who understand and appreciate her compassion for patients and her strength in standing up for what she believed in.

Toni Hoffman and Donna Carson, have both been recognised as inspirational role models for their actions in the face of diversity. Judas Kisses and Sick to Death illustrate strong and courageous women who through an unselfish journey have encouraged people to speak up for what is right.

Judas Kisses and Sick to Death are available from bookstores nationally.

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