Charlottes’ Law Petition started by friends gains momentum
The premature death of anyone, especially allegedly by their own hand, is tragic and deeply saddening. And when that person is a high profile ‘celebrity’ it’s as if the whole country goes into an overdrive of reporting. There will be rumour and conjecture; there will facts and fiction.
But what is not in contention is the unrelenting, on-line bullying self-confessed depression sufferer Charlotte Dawson experienced from cowardly, unknown ‘trolls’ in the many months before her death on Sunday, February 22nd.
Charlotte Dawson left her birthplace, New Zealand, when she was 16 to model in Europe. Ten years later she relocated to Australia where she became involved in the fashion industry. Many high profile roles followed including Beauty & Fashion Director for Woman’s Day and Style Editor at New Idea. In 2000 Charlotte was named the ‘face’ of the Peter Morrissey fashion label and presented her own weekly fashion segment on Good Morning Australia on Channel Ten. More roles followed as Charlotte became a fashion correspondent for Channel Ten’s E!News and a regular panellist on Beauty and The Beast, a guest on Burke’s Backyard and Channel Nine’s Simply The Best.
Charlotte became a researcher at the Nine Network working on programs such as Money and Looking Good while she was working for Australian model agencies Cameron’s and Priscilla’s. After becoming Fashion Editor for the Today program, Charlotte field stories on local and international fashion news and events. Her success saw her feature in Dolly, Celo, She, Elle, Vogue and Mode fashion spreads.
As a ‘celebrity’ model, Charlotte made regular appearances on The Footy Show, was a guest fashion commentator, host and MC at media events. In 2008, Charlotte was chosen as a host on Foxtel’s Australia’s Next Top Model.
It appears that Charlotte’s twitter troll battles may have emanated from her role on Australia’s Next Top Model. Some in the media suggested Dawson was aggressive and had a history of discouraging contestants on the show. After being admitted to St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney after a suicide attempt in 2012, her much publicised battle with twitter trolls was said to be the cause. Apparently she had become the target of an organised on-line campaign of harassment in part due to her involvement with an anti-bullying initiative, Community Brave.
Peter Ford from Melbourne’s 3AW alleged that “the problem of Charlotte taking on this cause is her act’s about abusing people and putting them down (on Australia’s Next top Model) so it becomes a bit murky as to why she’s become a champion of this particular cause.”
A representative for Community Brave identified one of Dawson’s Twitter trolls as Tanya Heti, an employee of Melbourne’s Monash University. Community Brave reported the incident to Heti’s employer and she was stood down without pay. She was reinstated shortly afterwards after the University found she was not guilty of misconduct.
Dawson then appeared on Seven News in order to expose the alleged social media trolls. She insisted that she was not involved with conducting the research for the story, and that she was only acting as person confronting the alleged trolls on camera.
Whilst Charlotte’s own biography was launched just two weeks later, amidst an intense, promotional campaign, she was heavily criticised in the media after broadcasting disparaging remarks about the partners of AFL footballers. This was as part of her role as a fashion expert for television coverage of the AFL’s Brownlow Medal.
Sadly, Charlotte was found dead in her luxury Woolloomooloo apartment on February 22nd. It appears she may have lost her battle with depression and there are no suspicious circumstances.
Charlotte will be remembered warmly by her friends and by the many people affected by bullying of any sort. A petition, Charlotte’s Law, has been created on www.change.org by – Em Mastronardi (@EmMastronardi), Sam McCauley (@SamMcCauley) & Lara Harwood (@LaraH67). #CharlottesLaw. The purpose is to create stronger cyber bullying legislation.
To view this petition please click here
What are your views? Have you been cyber bullied? Would you like to see stronger cyber bullying legislation in place? Do you think Charlotte’s death will help the cause she supported?