Is this the most terrifying photo you’ve ever seen?

Video via ABC's 7.30

This used to be a photo of two of Australia’s most well-known cultural icons and beloved entertainers.

(Image via Channel Nine.)

Now, it's a photo of two men accused of, and in some cases found guilty of, doing horrible things to women.

A "high-grade, twisted abuser" and a "sinister pervert" with a "demon lurking beneath the charming exterior".

Today, this photo is a terrifying image.

The allegations of sexual harassment and workplace bullying against Don Burke have come from least 50, and reportedly more than 100, women.

They range from accounts of him making disgusting sexual remarks such as ,"Is your c*nt as big as that?" to trying to remove his employee's bra, to asking for a woman to audition for him "topless".

They come from women he worked with daily to those he had brief encounters with, and together, these accounts paint a pattern of unsettling, misogynistic behaviour, designed to shock, demean and belittle the women involved.


And yet at the time this picture was taken on Burke's show, in 1993, Don Burke was in his prime - vat or perhaps nearing - the peak of his power and influence as a TV personality and household name. He had his own TV show, Burke's Backyard, authored several books, and would later go on to produce Backyard Blitz, cementing his position as Australia's most trusted gardener.

That same year he appeared in a campaign against domestic violence, which was pulled after a complaint about his attitude to women.

Listen: On this bonus episode of Out Loud, Holly, Rachel and Jessie discuss Don Burke and ask the question - what happens next?

However, his accuser's complaints were being largely ignored by those with the power to do something about it. Some of these women were told they didn't have to work with Burke anymore, but none of the complaints resulted in any meaningful consequences for the now 70-year-old - certainly everything that's come out in the past week suggests that.

Next to Burke is Rolf Harris - a man who recently launched a bid to overturn 2014 convictions of indecent assaults.

In June that year, in a London court, the musician and artist was convicted of 12 indecent assaults, one on an eight-year-old autograph hunter, two on girls in their early teens, and a horrific timeline of abuse against his daughter's friend over 16 years. This month he successful had the conviction relating to the eight-year-old overturned.

The now 87-year-old served five years and nine months in jail for these assaults, which took place between 1968 and 1986. Further charges of historical abuse involving girls as young as 13 against the Australian-born entertainer were dropped in May this year after a retrial ended in a hung jury. This was the same month he was released from jail.

From these convictions, we know Harris was a sexual predator, who given the opportunity would grope, kiss and inappropriately touch girls and women.

At the time this photo was taken, Harris is on record as having abused a young woman just four years earlier. While he continued to be celebrated as one of our nation's treasures, she and the other children and teens he assaulted were grappling with what had happened to them.

What is terrifying about this photo is that these two men were once revered and respected by an adoring nation. It was only those who were on the receiving end of Harris's abuse and Burke's alleged harassment and bullying who knew who these men really were.

What is terrifying about this photo is it galls us for how easily we could all be fooled. It's terrifying because it makes us wonder what sinister secrets other beloved cultural icons may be hiding behind their smiles.



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