I remain deeply saddened and disappointed by what we have had to experience since
discovering that the Bendigo Writer’s Festival had included the book ‘Wedderburn’ and it’s author Maryrose Cuskelly, in this years program.
My husband and I attend the Festival, and to think that this author and her book were going to be a part of it, was more than I could cope with. We (family) were also distressed, that local organisations and businesses sought to gain from promoting something which causes most members of the families involved, such personal pain and misery.
Bendigo was my Mother and Brother’s home town. Mum worked at Coles, Myers and St.John of God when it was Mt.Alvernia, raising most of her family to adulthood and residing here for more than half her life. What should have been a simple appeal for some respect for our family has turned into an unwarranted ‘bun fight’.
Family of the victims and the perpetrator, live in Bendigo and its surrounding areas.
We are all victims of the fallout of this crime, and now this book.
I would like to clearly state, I do not represent the part of my mother’s family, who gave interviews for this book and still support it, nor are we those who sued Jamieson therefore, impacting on his family.
It is now apparent that, the current Director of the Festival, Rosemary Sorensen, had prior knowledge that this would be a locally sensitive topic, but abandoned her ‘duty of care’ to the Bendigo’s wider community in allowing its inclusion.
After my repeated requests to Sorensen for contact, were met with silence, I chose to contact the Chair person of the Festival Cr Rod Fyffe, and numerous others, including our Mayor Margaret O’Rourke, trying to have our objection acknowledged.
Along with my sister, my husband and son, we met with Cr Fyffe and Mayor
Margaret O’Rourke who sympathetically heard our grievances.
Threats were never made to the festival or to cause disruption to it, by us. Unless, one can call contacting the sponsors and making them aware of what was happening – when we were being ignored – can be perceived as a threat. Then of that, I am guilty.
My sole purpose in doing so was to seek support for the removal of the book and the author from the published program.
I have protected my privacy since the event in October 2014, trying to maintain some dignity in my pain, but I had to speak out about what I saw as an injustice to my mother and brother’s memory in their home town. I knew I couldn’t allow this to happen.
I have not contacted the Author over this issue and for her to infer intimidation and threats is offensive and completely unfounded.
Something must be learned from this… All the pain and suffering of the last few weeks could have been avoided I believe, if the Bendigo Writer’s Festival, had again, a working committee who could discuss such issues, that may be raised by featured authors and their books.
I object most strongly to the content of this book and its very existences. True Crime as a genre, may be worthwhile in resolving unsolved crimes or to gain understanding, but this book, in my opinion, serves no worthwhile purpose.
It is appalling to me, that in 2019, when everyone is protecting and discussing their privacy rights, that victims of crime have no right to defend themselves or their deceased family members. Authors can write whatever they like by telling themselves and us, as Cuskelly does, “she tried to be as compassionate and as honest as possible”.
Cuskelly frequently indulges in victim shaming and much of the material in the book had nothing to do with the crime. I believe, people who, without thought, involve themselves in books such as this, using the platform to support their own selfish agendas, give no thought to the impact on victims and the families.
After all, Cuskelly for one, is an acquaintance of a friend of the perpetrator of this crime.
Of the ten surviving children of the victims. Cuskelly only interviewed two for her book, and indeed did not even bother to approach half of this number. I believe, consensus within a family should have to be given before a book such as this can be contrived.
Cuskelly included unfounded gossip, which she knew to be incorrect, and personal information of the victims and members of the families, which had nothing to do with the crime, this continues to denigrate the memory of the dead and the haunt the lives of the living. Salaciously included to sensationalise and sell her book. She repeatedly makes suppositions and judgements about people she has never met. In my opinion, it does nothing to honour the dead.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who I approached for support and others who reached out to offer support throughout this issue, as we sought understanding and a resolution, in particular Mayor Margaret O’Rourke and Cr. Rod Fyffe.
We would also most sincerely like to thank, our family members and friends who privately and publicly supported and encouraged us throughout this endeavour, also those who publicly put themselves out there, when they are normally reserved people, who do not seek attention.
I am also pleased to report that one thing we gained, was an assurance that if a similar issue ever arose, this would not be allowed happen to another local family.
I know that my Mum, Peter and Greg would be equally horrified to know of this books existence and that some of her own children, and so called friends and acquaintances contributed content to its existence. She meant so much more to us than the way that she died.
We have achieved something in her memory. We did this for you Mum and your son Greg.
A huge thank you for the immense support we have received from family and friends who recognised this book – since it’s publication – for what it is – a betrayal to the memory of the dead and those left behind. There is no honour here for anyone. In the book Cuskelly tells one of those to whom she is speaking “they’ll come to resent her no matter how careful she is with what they’ve told her”. I believe, her purpose, is clearly evident in this statement. Betrayal, She used them but then they used her for their own selfish agendas.
The cover causes further pain to my family every time we see it. To have a Blue Wren, a symbol which represents our Mother, alighting on a knife which represents the weapon, used in the brutal murder of her son, along with a shotgun which Jamieson used in the most horrid way, let alone all the dreadful quotes, is abhorrent! This book cover, is insensitivity on a grand scale, on the part of the author, designer and publisher. Thought for the families of the victims, were never in any of their minds when this was conceived and approved.
Repeatedly in the media it is reiterated that Cuskelly would not be speaking directly about her book. That is a ridiculous statement! Anyone who knows how Writer’s Festivals work, knows that the panelists, at least, refer to their latest book, frequently having a copy with them to hold up to the audience. They then settle down for signing opportunities afterwards, either outside the venue, or in the Festival book shop, for Bendigo, this is at the Capital Theatre, where copies are available in significant numbers. Indeed one of the panels she was planned to take part in was called ‘I Just Snapped’ Jamieson’s own words! No of course she wasn’t going to mention it!
Thank goodness, we and our family and acquaintances, will now, not have to be confronted with rows of them in the Bookshop at the Festival!