Mandatory bedside reading for every politican, bureaucrat, teacher, psychologist, criminologist, feminist, police officer.' The Australian Debbie Kilroy was locked up and abused at 13, a mother at 17, married to a celebrity footballer at 25, jailed for drug trafficking and witness to a violent murder at 28. Just 12 years later she was awarded the Order of Australia for her fearless campaigning for the rights of women prisoners through her groundbreaking advocacy group, Sisters Inside. What sent a decent, working class kid out of control and into the care of the state so young? What enabled her to step off the merry-go-round of violence, drug dealing and prison to remake her life? When Kilroy was jailed for drug trafficking in 1989, she lost almost everything along with her freedom- her husband, rugby league player Smokin' Joe Kilroy, her two young children and her home. Inside, she was viciously stabbed and witnessed the murder of a friend. This tragedy marked a turning point - and the beginning of the battle to turn her life around. After her release, Kilroy began a painstaking journey towards reconciliation with Joe and her children, and fulfilling a promise- 'I said
Brisbane-based Kris Olsson is a journalist and writer. She has worked for THE AUSTRALIAN, COURIER MAIL & SUNDAY MAIL, as a government media advisor and teacher of writing at two universities. Her first novel, IN ONE SKIN was published by UQP in 2001. She is a member of the management committee of Sisters Inside.