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The family of Sydney siege victim Katrina Dawson have turned their grief into charity.

When Katrina Dawson was killed in the Sydney siege late last year, Australia drew in a collective breath.

Many were overtaken by shock, some were fueled with passion about the injustice of it all, and so many more consumed by a sadness for her family and for those who knew her best.

Nearly twelve months on from that tragic night, the Dawson family have fought back. They’ve spent the last year navigating their sadness and their grief and channeling it into something much greater.

“We had to try to do something to create a positive thing out of such horror.” Image supplied.

Soon, they will announce the first recipients of the Katrina Dawson Foundation scholarships to Sydney University Women’s College. The prize gifts young women who are financially restrained from pursuing their dreams opportunity and education.

Ultimately, the family believe scholarship recipients will have Katrina’s track record of academic excellence, display community leadership and require some financial assistance to pursue their dreams.

Sandy Dawson, brother of Katrina and well-known barrister told Fairfax Media the idea was borne out of as much a desire to create opportunity as it was to help the family navigate their own grief.

“We had to try to do something to create a positive thing out of such horror, so to have come this far in 12 months I think actually, personally, it has helped,” he said.

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“I hope that the young women the foundation supports are inspired by Katrina’s attitude to life.” Image via Getty.
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“From that quite unspecific determination to do something, it’s translated into three young women who have extraordinary potential, suddenly having access to something they would never have had without us. And that’s all about Katrina.”

Katrina’s husband, Paul Smith, is chairman of the foundation and also told Fairfax he was excited about the prospect of finding and helping young women who have Katrina’s drive and passion.

“I hope that the young women the foundation supports are inspired by Katrina’s attitude to life – which was to make the most of every opportunity she had and to approach all aspects of her life with a sense of joyous energy that infected everyone she knew,” he said.

As the first anniversary of her death draws near, Sandy Dawson says the gap in their lives is still as big as ever, but he thinks “we are genuinely sustained by knowing that we have turned the last year into something tangible in her name, that we are proud of and she would have been proud of”.
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