Kilroy Was Here
An unflinching story of how any child can be broken, any parent deceived and any woman defeated by a system that punishes rather than corrects. And how a life can be redeemed despite impossible odds. Debbie Kilroy was locked up and abused at 13, a mother at 17, married to a celebrity footballer at 25, jailed for drug trafficking at 28 and witness to a violent murder at 30. Just 10 years later she was awarded the Order of Australia for her fearless campaigning for the rights of women in prison through the groundbreaking advocacy group she founded, Sisters Inside, and nominated for Businesswoman of the Year. And she has just been presented with a Human Rights Award for her work. What happened to send a decent, working class kid out of control and into the care of the state so young - and what enabled her to step off the merry-go-round of violence, drug dealing and imprisonment to remake her own life and dramatically transform the lives of others? Kilroy was jailed for drug trafficking in 1989, along with her husband, Smokin' Joe Kilroy, one of the fastest rugby league players to ever pull on a State of Origin jersey.She lost almost everything along with her freedom: her husband, her two children and her home. Inside, she was viciously stabbed and witnessed the murder of a friend. Recovering in hospital from her stab wounds she reached a turning point and hasn't looked back. After her release , Kilroy began to rebuild her life, including reuniting with childhood sweetheart Joe and her two children, who had been put into care when their parents were sent to jail. And she established Sisters Inside, a unique advocacy group run by women prisoners, acclaimed for its groundbreaking work not only in Australia but all internationally. Today Kilroy says her life is 'light years away from who I was', yet she goes on fighting for the rights of women prisoners. She has a degree in social work and is working towards one in law - she hopes eventually to become a barrister.