The name Allison Baden-Clay captivated the nation in 2012 after what began as a missing person case evolved into a high profile domestic violence murder.
For Seven Network presenter Jillian Whiting, the tragedy was felt by so many because outward appearances showed the Baden-Clays had it all.
“To the outside world, they seemed like a normal family and [the case showed] you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life,” she tells My Weekly Preview.
“She could’ve been any one of us.”
Ms Whiting will feature in the Sunshine Coast’s first In Conversation event at Venue 114, which will mark International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 by shining a spotlight on the very real damage of domestic violence.
She will be joined by Ms Baden-Clay’s sister Vanessa Fowler, who co-founded the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation to pay tribute to her late sister and has become
a changemaker in the realm of domestic violence prevention and warning sign awareness.
Ms Whiting was a Sunrise reporter and covered Gerard Baden-Clay’s 2012 trial in a professional capacity while also grieving for Alison’s loss as someone with a personal connection to her family.
“It was shocking to us all. Before that the community wrongly believed domestic violence was restricted to a low socioeconomic group or in environments where drug and alcohol abuse was rife, but Allison’s case showed there are many more ways than physical violence that women were being harmed,” she says.
“I was covering the trial and going through the evidence and hearing about the controlling and restrictive behaviour her husband employed. Also sitting through [evidence and] watching this man defend what he did, it will sit with me forever.”
Ms Whiting described Ms Fowler as a “courageous woman”.
“It’s invaluable to be able to stand in her shoes for even just a moment and to hear what she has to say,” Ms Whiting says.
In Conversation is only one of the powerful events being held across the region to mark IWD and Ms Whiting, who has two daughters aged 14 and 11, says the theme of More Power Together is incredibly fitting.
“I think it’s frightening to stand up and put your hand up and call out bad behaviour because people can turn on you very quickly, but International Women’s Day is a chance to support other women who are being courageous enough to stand up and to make these calls and support other women who may be struggling,” she says.
In Conversation will include a grazing table style lunch and beverages followed by a Q and A session and entertainment.
The Sunshine Coast Council will provide a donation to the foundation to assist in the development and awareness of these programs.
Award-winning Australian actress Rebecca Gibney will be the guest speaker at the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network International Women’s Day breakfast on March 12 at the Novotel Twin Waters.
Ms Gibney is no stranger to the struggles of working hard to reach your dreams and will speak about her successful career, how she has evolved in an ever-changing industry and how she celebrates her individuality.
Another darling of the screen, Australian Survivor 2017 runner-up Tara Pitt will lend her strong personal message to Women Initiating New Directions Organisation’s (WINDO) Steppin’ Out event at The J on March 8.
Ms Pitt, a Eumundi mother-of-three says she used the popular reality TV series as a platform to raise awareness about PTSD and mental health after losing her father to suicide in 2016.
“I didn’t come away from Survivor with the money, but I came away with much more than that,’’ she says.
“Now I get to travel doing speaking presentations that are helping veterans across the country and I have an ambassador role at Mates4Mates,” she says.
“In many ways, it’s an incredible way for me to connect with my father as speaking to these veterans is just like speaking with him.”
Ms Pitt says the Steppin’ Out event will provide the audience with a beautiful balance of thought-provoking, inspirational and uplifting speakers and performers.
The line-up includes award-winning singer Catherine Alcorn, renowned for her powerhouse vocals and razor sharp wit, leadership expert James Greenfield, speaking about mental health, comedian Carolyn Mandersloot, local singer songwriters Lara-Jane Stewart and Alisha Todd as well as the Noosa Professional Dance Academy and Sunshine Beach State High School’s award-winning string orchestra.
- Illuminate Art Exhibition at the Butter Factory Arts Centre Cooroy. Open until April 2. Free admission.
- Women of Story Art Exhibition at Gallery One, The Old Ambulance Station, Nambour. Open until March 31. Free admission.
- Le Passage de la Femme Art Exhibition Opening Soiree at The J at 5.30pm. Celebrating the work of charismatic French-born local artist, Michele Rudder. Tickets windowomen.org.
- When Sleeping Women Wake, community leadership conference from 9am to 4.30pm at The J. Tickets windowomen.org.
- SHINE Business Women’s SHINE’ing The Spotlight book launch, 5.30pm to 7.30pm at the Maroochy Surf Club. Tickets, shinebusinesswomen.com.
- Sunrise Inspo-Trek for Women. Join local Trek Coach Lisa Marshall, for a morning of hiking on beautiful trails, with ocean views and peaceful bushland. Meet 5.50am at the end of Viewland Drive, Noosa at entrance to Noosa National Park. Tickets register.canbook.me/spirit-of-adventure.
- In Conversation featuring Jillian Whiting and Vanessa Fowler, 11.30am to 2.30pm at Venue 114. Tickets scvenuesandevents.com.au.
- Steppin’ Out Variety Show from 7pm at The J. Tickets thej.com.au/windo-presents-steppin-out/.
- Sunshine Coast Business Women’s International Women’s Day Breakfast featuring Rebecca Gibney, 6.30am to 9am at the Novotel Twin Waters. Tickets scbwn.org.au.