It’s probably difficult for some younger Australians to understand just how much Lindy Chamberlain was vilified and ridiculed by her countrymen and women 32 years ago when a dingo killed her baby, Azaria.
But I know, because I was one of them.
I was working as a stand-up comedian in the early 1980s and performed a routine I had written which posed the question: “What if they made Lindy Chamberlain The Musical?”
The centrepiece of this rave was the 1967 tune by The Association called: “Everyone Knows It’s Windy” which I had cleverly re-written as “Everyone Knows It’s Lindy.” (I know. Genius.)
I’ll spare you the rest of the lyrics of this piece of brilliant wit, but suffice to say audiences laughed their heads off (and, the only thing I can say in my defence is that I felt so uneasy when I performed this routine that I retired it pretty quick smart.)
I remember that The Age newspaper did something of a roundup of all the Azaria jokes at the time, part of my routine was printed and I was ashamed of myself.
I could pass off my effort as an attempt to satirise the witch hunt in the media at the time, but no excuses.
In pursuit of a laugh, I too carried a burning stick. What was I thinking?
Such was the fire storm of hatred, all rationality was lost.
Almost everyone was in on the act. (It’s important that later generations know how poorly we behaved.)
My husband recalls having heated debates at parties where he (being something of a contrarian) argued long and loudly that it most surely was a dingo which was the culprit to howls of disbelief.
“She did it. Of course she did it!”
The entire nation stood in judgement of blameless parents who loved their daughter so much they named her as “One who God has helped”, not “Sacrifice in the Wilderness” as was so sensationally reported. Nothing can compensate for their suffering. No one can walk in their shoes.
As Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton writes on her home page:
This is the story of a little girl who lived, and breathed, and loved, and was loved. She was part of me. She grew within my body and when she died, part of me died, and nothing will ever alter that fact. This is her story, and mine.
I am only one of millions of Australians who owe Michael and Lindy Chamberlain and their family the most abject, grovelling apology.
Thirty-two years of fighting for justice. Four inquests. Three years in prison for Lindy.
Could any mother and father do more for a beloved child?
And so here is my apology: Lindy, Michael. I am truly sorry for the hurt I caused you, your family and friends. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.
I acknowledge that the horror for your family has been unending. You have always conducted yourselves with the utmost dignity and composure. The very qualities that saw you damned, accused and convicted.
I sincerely hope that today’s verdict helps you find some peace, but I also understand that your journey with grief is something of which I have no comprehension.
As it says on Lindy’s website: “If you look at the contents of this website, just for curiosity, or for research, keep foremost in your mind that this is two stories, firstly about a young life cut short. But, it is also the story of a mother who fought for justice, while struggling to keep her family together.
“Above all, in everything that you do with your life, keep an open mind…”
Lesson well and truly learned.
Thank you for your forbearance and patience in the face of my blind ignorance and cruelty.
I am truly sorry for your loss.