Summary of the Dawn Rowan Saga:
1981: Dawn appointed manager of Christies Beach Women's Shelter, Adelaide
1983: A behind-the-scenes sabotage of Dawn and the Shelter begins
1987: Police and Corporate Affairs ordered by Dr. John Cornwall, Health and Welfare Minister to investigate (ie. find something illegal) in the shelter. These investigations cleared the shelter of any wrong-doing, and in fact praised the work of the shelter. But Corwnall five days after receiving the final reports, released under parliamentary privilege damaging 'unsubstantiated allegations' against Dawn and the shelter. Funding was ordered to be withdrawn three weeks later. The shelter had to cease operations, and all the workers lost their jobs.
1990: Dawn filed an action in the Supreme Court of SA against the SA Government, Federal Government (as the co-funding body they had to agree to the shelter's closing), Channel 10 TV and ABC TV.
2002: Justice Debelle handed down a 300-page judgment completely exonerating Dawn and her co-workers of any wrongdoing whatsoever. He severely condemned the use of unsubstantiated allegations in parliament - allegations which the two key players, Dr. John Cornwall and Mrs Judith Roberts AO knew to be false. Justice Debelle found Ms Roberts guilty of malicious defamation, and Dr. Cornwall guilty of misfeasance (abuse of public office). The judge ordered compensation for personal damages of $225,000 (compounded to $500,000 with 14 years interest added) to Dawn.
August 2003: All the other parties appealed the judgment.
November 2004: Dawn won the appeal, but the full bench of the Supreme Court of SA found the Commmonwealth and the two TV networks not liable for the damages done to Dawn as a result of the defamation. The Commonwealth immediately commenced action against Dawn to bankrupt her.
An application to be heard by the High Court of Australia was denied.
2006: Dawn took out an action alleging undisclosed bias by the Full Bench judges - Justices Bleaby, Sulan, and Besanko - as a result of discovering their connections with Ms Judith Roberts. Their judgment - handed down six weeks later - denied any bias. They ordered Dawn to pay a lump sum to the Commonwealth of $380,000 (which coincidentally was the value of her home and other assets). Note that the Commonwealth and the State of SA have consistently refused to disclose the millions of taxpayers' dollars spent destroying this innocent woman.
2007: The Commonwealth Government took action in the Australian Federal Court to enforce bankruptcy. This is now in the final stages of being enforced.
In several communications between members of Federal parliament and the ministers responsible, it has been pointed out that the Government is completely free to exercise discretion in pursuing the bankruptcy or not.
Summary: As Julian Burnside QC, a highly respected human rights lawyer put it: 'I have carefully considered your situation... You have exhausted all possibilities of legal recourse... It is now important that your story be known by the public rather than buried... Be more assertive in pushing this issue in the media. Exposure of the Commonwealth's shabby behaviour might cause a change of heart.'
Comment: shabby is a mild word for it. 'Deliberate torture' is closer to the truth. Please pray for Dawn, and continue to make representations on her behalf to any Federal Labor ministers you know.
See http://dawnrowansaga.blogspot.com/ and http://dawnrowandocuments.blogspot.com/ for links to the legal transcripts etc.
Channel 7 This Day Tonight video: http://jmm.aaa.net.au/video/dawn_low.swf
(Rev. Dr.) Rowland Croucher
January 4th 2008.