Barbara Biggs

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Barbara Biggs
Barbara Biggs.jpg
Born (1956-12-03) 3 December 1956 (age 60)
Nationality Australian

Barbara Biggs (born 3 December 1956) is an Australian journalist, social commentator, author and child protection campaigner.[1][2]

Career[edit]

Biggs has been a journalist since 1989. She was a staff journalist[3][4] for the Sunday Herald Sun in the 1990s and has since had freelance opinion pieces published in Australia's Herald Sun[5] and Britain's The Independent[6] newspapers.

Biggs' first book was a 2003 autobiography, called In Moral Danger, about her life up to the age of 22. The book tells of her sexual abuse from the age of 14 by a well-known criminal barrister.[7] It explains the damaging after effects following her abuse, including time spent in a psychiatric hospital, escaping Cambodia weeks before it fell to the Khmer Rouge and being a prostitute in Japan. It also describes how she attempted suicide four times, received death threats and caused national headlines - all before the age of 22.

Biggs has been interviewed about her story written in In Moral Danger by some of Australia and Britain's leading journalists, interviewers and publications including Scotland on Sunday,[8] BBC4's Woman's Hour's Jenni Murray,[9] Australia's Robyn Williams,[10] Phillip Adams,[11] and George Negus.[12]

In Moral Danger has since been released in the UK (2004),[13] New Zealand (2005),[14] where it became number one on the best-seller list, and has been translated for publication in Sweden and Greece (2006) and Japan (2008).[citation needed] The book and its sequel is the subject of a feature film in production, funded by Film Victoria.[15]

The 2004 sequel, The Road Home, is about her life from 22-42, culminating in a legal battle with the barrister who abused her at 14, which she won. The barrister died three months after the judgement.[16] It also tells how she became a mother, classical pianist, journalist and property millionaire. Former Governor General of Australia Peter Hollingworth wrote a foreword to the book. Two years earlier he had made comments about child sexual abuse and mishandled certain complaints made to him during his career as an Anglican priest. After reading In Moral Danger he felt enlightened by Biggs. In his words, "I accepted Barbara's point that I did not understand the 'emotional mechanics' of child sexual abuse and the long-term destructive effect on a victim's later life." He added "Her story will be an inspiration to others facing similar circumstances. Victims will see that they are not alone and will be encouraged to speak out about their own emotional responses to abuse."[17][18]

Biggs' third book in 2005, The Accidental Renovator: A Paris Story is about her exploits in buying an apartment in Paris in 2003. A combination of travel book, gonzo-journalistic treatment of the seedier side of Paris life and 'gallery of characters' met whilst renovating the apartment in 2004.

Biggs' fourth book was titled Chat Room and released in 2006. It is about a 13-year-old girl who falls victim to a predator (posing as a child) in a teen chat room. Some of the inside information of this novel was provided by the Australian Federal Police and their files on offenders.[19] It was also released in New Zealand in October 2006.[20]

Sex And Money: How To Get More was Biggs' fifth book, and treats of her own lessons on how to get more wealth, power, sex, and happiness.[21]

Child protection campaign[edit]

Since In Moral Danger was published, Biggs has become an advocate for social change and awareness about child sexual abuse.[22] She now speaks about her life and child sexual abuse to a range of welfare professionals and private groups. She also trains foster carers about how to recognize and deal with children who have been sexually abused.[citation needed]

Biggs writes and speaks about how she 'fell in love' with her abuser, suppressing her real feelings about the abuse to mould it into a 'love story'. She said this was the most damaging aspect of her abuse, the effects of which lingered for decades.[23]

In February 2009, Biggs began the Safer Family Law Campaign, and convened the National Council for Children Post-Separation (NCCPS), organisations created to seek new provisions to the Family Law Act that the group believed would remove barriers that might prevent women from raising allegations of family violence. Biggs organized a campaign which included an online petition and a series of YouTube videos.[24] Amidst the campaign, Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant said some changes were needed, but was critical of the group during a speech;[25] on 2 May, Bryant decided to intervene by requesting that Attorney General Robert McClelland give "urgent consideration" to repealing parts of the Family Law Act. Rallies, organised by Biggs in favour of the changes, took place in five Australian cities on 3 May 2009.[26][27][28][29] Laws which put a child's right to a meaningful relationship with both parents and safety as equal priorities for family court judges, were changed in 2011 to prioritize a child's safety. NCCPS continues to seek further changes to the Family Law Act and other Australian court practice that the group believes will benefit children and families. Six months after she began the campaign, Biggs left the organisation to parents affected by the laws. She now works in a remote Aboriginal community in the area of mental health and healing.

Political candidacy[edit]

Biggs stood as an Upper House candidate for the then new People Power political party, in the 2006 Victorian election.[22] Running for the Northern Metropolitan Region seat, she lost to the Greens candidate Greg Barber.

Legal issues[edit]

In 1977, Biggs was deported from Japan and on her return journey to Australia was intercepted at Tullamarine after authorities in Guam discovered she possessed two Australian passports in different names.[30] In October 1978, Biggs pleaded guilty in Melbourne Magistrates' Court to "making a false statement when applying for an Australian passport, forging an application for a passport and uttering an application knowing it to be false".[30] Biggs was fined $170 as a result of the charges, and ordered to pay $45 in costs.[30]

In September 1978, Biggs refused to join the Tramway and Motor Omibus Employee's Association trade union while working as a tram conductor in Melbourne. Public transport service was disrupted as unionized workers on the city's trams and buses refused to work, in support of the closed shop. As a result of the dispute, Biggs elected to take on a clerical role with the Transport Ministry, ending the industrial action.[31][32][33]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Peterson-McKinnon, Nicole (2006-11-26). "Sex and money: both need discipline". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2006-12-10. 
  2. ^ Biggs, Barbara (2006-12-11). "Outing won't stop sex crimes". Herald Sun. 
  3. ^ Biggs, Barbara (1997-03-16). "A thinking man's view on life". Sunday Herald Sun. 
  4. ^ Biggs, Barbara (1999-03-07). "In company of Angels". Sunday Herald Sun. 
  5. ^ Biggs, Barbara (8 November 2006). "Girls who just look available". Herald Sun. 
  6. ^ "Barbara Biggs: There is nothing normal about child sex abuse". The Independent. London. 1 November 2004. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  7. ^ "Episode 22 Barbara Biggs Interview". Archived from the original on 13 January 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-10. 
  8. ^ Catherine Deveney (2004-10-03). "Against all odds". Scotland on Sunday. 
  9. ^ "Barbara Biggs (interview)". BBC Woman's Hour. 21 September 2004. Retrieved 2006-12-09. 
  10. ^ The In Conversation - Past Programs
  11. ^ The Late Night Live - Past Programs
  12. ^ Barbara Biggs Interview
  13. ^ BBC - Radio 4 - Woman's Hour -Barbara Biggs
  14. ^ Radio Week by Fiona Rae | New Zealand Listener
  15. ^ Film Victoria - Fiction Development
  16. ^ http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/spectrum.cfm?id=1144082004&format=print
  17. ^ Murphy, Damien (2004-05-04). "Public penance for a tormented priest". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  18. ^ Hollingworth, Peter (2004-05-04). "A wiser man, after a victim's challenge". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  19. ^ "Experiences from a 'Chat Room'". Shine TV. 20 November 2006. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  20. ^ "New Predators; Madonna's Adoption; James Morrison". Television New Zealand. 17 October 2006. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  21. ^ Sex and Money: How to Get More
  22. ^ a b Mansingh, Nitika (2006-11-24). "From child slave to author". Melbourne: The Age. Archived from the original on 26 November 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-09. 
  23. ^ "Barbara Biggs (interview)". ABC Radio. 16 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-10. 
  24. ^ Horin, Adele (2 May 2009). "Judge calls for urgent changes to family law". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 6 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  25. ^ Milovanovic, Selma (4 May 2009). "Push is on to review family law". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  26. ^ Horin, Adele (4 May 2009). "Anger at law that fails children". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  27. ^ "Suffer the little children". The Age. Melbourne. 3 May 2009. 
  28. ^ Push is on to review family law
  29. ^ Push is on to review family law
  30. ^ a b c Passport Charges: SM Fines Woman, The Age, 11 October 1978
  31. ^ Weeks, Phillipa (1995). "The Right to Non-membership". Trade Union Security Law: A Study of Preference and Compulsory Unionism. Annandale, NSW: Federation Press. p. 207. ISBN 9781862871670. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  32. ^ "Miss Biggs to give up job on tram". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 September 1978. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  33. ^ Ticketless, she will ride to the end of the line, The Age, 5 September 1978

Bibliography[edit]

  • Biggs, Barbara (2003). In Moral Danger: A True Story. Sly Ink. ISBN 0-9579121-4-5. 
  • Biggs, Barbara (2004). The Road Home: What Price Redemption?. Sly Ink. ISBN 0-646-43122-6. 
  • Biggs, Barbara (2005). The Accidental Renovator: A Paris Story. Camberwell, N.S.W.: Floradale Production. ISBN 0-9752318-8-X. 
  • Biggs, Barbara; Jennifer Dabbs (2006). Chatroom. East St. Kilda, Vic.: Micklind Enterprises. ISBN 0-9775112-0-0. 
  • Biggs, Barbara (2006). Sex and Money: How to Get More. Micklind Enterprises. ISBN 0-9775112-1-9. 

External links[edit]