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Broken Lives Estelle Blackburn Essays About Education

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Estelle Blackburn is a Walkley Award-winning journalist who spent six years researching and writing the book Broken Lives, published in 1998. Estelle's self-funded work exposed an injustice which led to the 2002 and 2005 exonerations of two men convicted of Perth killings in the '60s - the longest-standing convictions to be overturned in Australia. Her unfunded, determined sleuthing unearthed fresh evidence that prompted the Attorney General to allow the men new appeals after they had lost a combined total of seven Appeals in the '60s.

Coming across the story by chance and persisting with it has turned Estelle's life around. From a journalism career with The West Australian, the ABC and the Government Media Office, Estelle has become a crusader for justice.

Her work for justice has won Estelle an array of awards including an Order of Australia Medal in the Queens Birthday Honours List, for community service through investigative journalism, a Churchill Fellowship, the prestigious national Walkley Award for the greatest contribution to the profession, and the Perth Press Club Award for sustained excellence in journalism. Estelle has been included in the 25 Most Outstanding Western Australians, and won Western Australia's Woman of the Year. She has been the subject of three one-hour episodes of the ABC's Australian Story televised in 1998, 2002 and 2007, a 60 Minutes segment and an episode on the US Forensic Files program titled 'Dueling Confessions'.

Estelle's latest book The End of Innocence tells her story of the years of research and writing Broken Lives, and was launched at the Sydney Writers Festival in 2007.

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Broken Lives by Estelle Blackburn

  • Length: 320 words (0.9 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
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The fourth Chapter of Estella Blackburn’s non fiction novel Broken lives “A Fathers Influence”, exposes readers to Eric Edgar Cooke and John Button’s time of adolescence. The chapter juxtaposes the two main characters too provide the reader with character analyses so later they may make judgment on the verdict. The chapter includes accounts of the crimes and punishments that Cooke contended with from 1948 to 1958. Cooke’s psychiatric assessment that he received during one of his first convictions and his life after conviction, marring Sally Lavin. It also exposes John Button’s crime of truancy, and his move from the UK to Australia.

The chapter “A Fathers Influence” is constructed with several techniques including selection of detail, choice of language, characterization, structure and writers point of view to reveal Blackburn’s values of social acceptance, parenting, family love, and a father’s influence. Consequently revealing her attitude that a child’s upbringing and there parents influence alter the characterization of a child significantly.

Blackburn’s choice of language is impetrative in positioning the reader to see Button as the Protagonist and Cooke as the antagonist. “The thirteen year old blinked and stammered when he tried to answer the magistrate’s questions about why he was wagging school”. The words “blinked and stammered” describing buttons actions encourage sympathy and an imagery of innocence. “But now he felt vengeful too. He wanted to spoil things a little for those happy people who didn’t suffer like he did”, the words “vengeful, and wanted to spoil” associated with Cooke’s thoughts, encourage a menacing, and revengeful imagery of Cooke.

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Blackburn’s choice of language also position the reader to feel sympathetic towards Cooke, “Wandering the streets to avoid his fathers belting and abuse at home, it was easy to take things here and there to provide some pleasure in life”. The words “belting and abuse” encourage a sympathetic feeling; Blackburn does this to help the reader understand the reasons behind Cooke’s actions.