Dear Senator Henderson,
I am writing to you in the hope you can assist me with my pursuit of justice.
My case has received a lot of publicity over the years - however very few people have actually taken the time to listen to what happened and understand how the criminal justice system has failed me. This has compounded the hurt, pain, distress and helplessness that the original assault caused me.
Despite the media interest, no one in public life has ever sought to help me, including many of the Labor party figures now piously condemning the government. They are complete hypocrites. I implore you to be different to them.
The media have also used my story at times, sensationalising my claims but with no regard for my welfare or conviction to see that my claims are supported or properly followed up.
My case is simple. I was raped by Bill Shorten in 1986.
As a member of the Labor vanguard movement, Bill had personally invited me to the young labor 3 day workshop, as he wanted to take control of young labor and my branch was crucial in delivering him much needed votes in a tight contest. As it turns out, It was the first time labor right took control of the executive from labor left.
Bill personally arranged our travel details, including a bus trip from Melbourne to the venue. He also personally oversaw the sleeping arrangements and I was surprised to learn he had separated me from my younger sister and put me in a cabin with two other girls known to him, but whom I had never met.
Bill was lecherous towards me pretty much from the start. He kept trying to touch me and always found a way to be sitting close or standing next to me and touching me. My Facebook page has one such instance recorded in a photo on my cover page.
When I repeatedly refused his advances he tried another tact. He started to ply me with alcohol at the Friday night party, despite knowing I was under age. As I got more drunk he became lecherous again. I took an offer from a friend to go for a drive to escape him. At the last second, Bill jumped in the front passenger seat and made me sit on his lap. I felt him start to touch me and could feel him getting aroused. I asked to be let out and so the driver turned the car around after only a few minutes and returned to the campsite. When I left the car I was crying - my sister called out after me concerned but I went back to my room.
Shortly after I went inside, I heard a knocking at the door. Thinking it was my sister I opened the door only to be confronted by Bill, who pushed me backwards into the bathroom touching me and pulling me down and then raping me. I fought back, my arms ached for days later, but he was too strong. I remember him making derogatory remarks and in anger I responded by commenting on his lack of sexual ability. He left shortly after and I spent the night on the bathroom toilet crying and trying to wipe away the smell he left inside me. I left as soon as I could , which wasn't until very early Sunday morning, I spent Saturday in bed in the same little room I shared with the two strangers. I left with my sister and did not travel back to Melbourne with everyone else. My life began to unravel from that point on.
Many witnesses saw Bill with me and I recounted with absolute clarity the details surrounding the actions to the police, whose subsequent investigations affirmed the many details of my account.
The police interviewed many people who attended the conference, however they failed to interview my best friend or any of my friends from the Wodonga branch at the time, the ones who actually knew something happened to me.
There are many supporting evidentiary points to my claim which the police acknowledge, which I now understand are similar to other rape victims. This includes me dropping out of high school shortly after the assault, my admission to Albury's Mercy Hospital for treatment when I had a miscarriage about 5 weeks later, and my subsequent battle with depression and PTSD. The police also confirmed the details of my cabin matched my description.
Contrary to public assertions, Bill Shorten was never cleared of my rape. The police turned up to arrest Bill Shorten but he avoided that by “voluntarily” accompanying them to police headquarters. The police prepared a brief of evidence against Bill Shorten which they believe justified charges. It was the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions that determined that no conviction was likely and therefore no charges should be brought against him. This was on the basis of it being one witness testimony in a historical rape case without any physical evidence. What possible chance does any rape victim have of getting justice if that is the approach of our judicial system. I note this is analogous to Brittany Higgins - the same circumstantial evidence exists in my case as it does in hers.
I have applied under FOI legislation to receive a copy of the brief of evidence but that request has been repeatedly denied by Victorian police, which denies me the right to seek my own action against Bill Shorten.
The distress caused to me has robbed me of much. It has affected my health and ruined every aspect of my life. I was a fit and engaged school student involved in labor politics and with an ambition to change the world. Bill Shorten robbed me of this and you can imagine the repeated pain I feel to see him not only get away with his crime against me, but to thrive and be protected by the very same people now pretending to stand up for victims of rape. Senator Wong herself stated in parliament that every woman who alleges rape should be believed, but she obviously has a hypocritical carve out for colleagues on her side of politics.
I have written to Anthony Albanese, Tanya Plibersek, Penny Wong and Sarah Hanson-Young. To date the only one to respond is Tanya Plibersek, who provided a condescending response referring me to 1800 RESPECT. An action she herself condemned only last week in Senator Simon Birmingham.
Issues of rape should be above party politics. The entrenched bias against rape victims is magnified when someone is in a position of far greater power as is the case with Bill Shorten. It’s incumbent on those who say they oppose it, to work to level that power imbalance, not to further perpetuate it by dismissing my case as the ravings of a scorned woman or incorrectly stating the claims having being adequately investigated and found to be baseless. These falsehoods must be challenged and corrected by those in positions of power. It is people’s lives we are dealing with and if we are serious about changing the culture around rape, then everyone’s voice must be heard and properly supported - so that other women have the courage to come forward, providing the only real chance of stamping out such behaviour once and for all.
I ask you to give a voice to my claim. To assist me in getting my FOI claim fairly considered and to hold those to account who just this last week condemned the government for the exact same behaviour they exhibited in 2014 when they stood beside Bill Shorten against me and have continued to support him over me ever since.
I would be happy to meet with you to show you some of the evidentiary information I have. But most of all I ask you for your help.