Should the victims of the Sydney Siege be allowed to profit from their ordeal? Yes. Yes, they bloody should.

The Sydney Siege victims lived through a life changing, horrific event that we could never imagine. Maybe they need to tell their stories. And if it gives them a bit of extra money for counselling or to take time off work, that’s OK.

I have a theory.

It dawned on me last night why we’re all exhausted all the time. We keep blaming email. And social media. And smart phones. But they’re not the culprits. We’re bone-tired these days because many of us have taken on a rather taxing and emotionally gruelling second job: Moral Guardian to the Masses.

I sound glib. But I’m not joking.

Yesterday was a prime example.

After a week of speculation and gossip, it was finally confirmed that six of the 16 surviving victims of the Sydney Siege would be paid by the Seven and Nine networks to share their stories for competing TV specials.

And leading the “How dare they…” charge is former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.

Jeff Kennett expresses his disdain on Twitter.

Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett took to twitter to voice his apparent disappointment in the Siege victims, as well as to the media outlets buying the stories of the event which led to two tragic deaths.

Should the Sydney siege hostages get bravery awards? This politician says no.

“Two innocent hostages lost their lives. I do not think it is morally right that the media pay, and any of those who were saved should profit from the attack. Just plain grubby. Sorry if I offend a few, but there should be a law against this exploitation,” he wrote.

“One survivor is alleged to being paid $400,000. What for, being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. To be rescued by others who put their lives on the line. Give me a break!”

Jeff Kennett lets us know his thoughts on the hostage situation.

I have a lot of respect for Mr Kennett in particular the important work he does with Beyond Blue but I can’t agree with him on this. Not even a little.

I see nothing grubby here. I see no exploitation.

What I do see is an increasing inability for us to allow other people to live their own lives as they see fit; to make choices and decisions that are right for them.

It is not our job –nor our MORAL RESPONSIBILITY– to tell innocent victims how to (legally) behave in the aftermath of a horrific crime. And selling your story when you are the victim of a crime or trauma is perfectly legal.

From where I sit this is tall poppy syndrome at its worst. It seems to me that these hostages have our utmost love and support so long as they continue to behave in a way we see appropriate. So long as they follow the script. We like our victims of crime to be shattered but hopeful. Humble but brave. We’re not quite ready for you guys to be ‘okay’ yet. Is that what we’re saying?

This event will live with these people forever. Let’s be kind. Credit: Getty Images

I would ask Mr Kennett (and anyone else who is ‘disappointed’ that someone who had a gun pointed at them should be paid to talk about their experiences) to remember that we don’t know what the hell happened in that café during that 16-hour siege last December. Oh we may think we know the broad-brush strokes. Basic movements. Things that were uttered. Demands that were made. But that tells us nothing.


I don’t know what it’s like to spend 16 hours terrified and wondering if at any moment I’m going to be shot in the face. From behind. In the back. Or beheaded in a window holding a flag for the world’s media to see. I don’t know what it’s like to worry about asking to go to the toilet or whether I should just stay silent and urinate into my pants in a desperate bid not to be noticed. I don’t know what it’s like to try and plan an escape or pray that the police will save me or wonder if I’ll see my husband again after arguing with him the night before. I don’t know what it’s like to actually leave farewell messages on Facebook to my family at the request of an agitated gunman.

Remembering the Sydney siege victims.

And I am so truly grateful that I don’t know. Aren’t you? I cannot begin to imagine how frightened those hostages were. Does that mean I will tune in to the TV interviews to hear the harrowing specifics when they air? Probably not – depends how I’m feeling on the day – but that’s not the point.

The point is I don’t begrudge them for taking money for an interview. After all, would any of us change places with them?

The 16 surviving victims of the Sydney siege owe us nothing.

Will we judge these people for selling their stories? Credit: Getty Images

For the rest of their lives they will grapple with what unfolded that day. Some of them may struggle to hold down work. Some may struggle with flashbacks or nightmares. They were taken HOSTAGE. All of them will be working out how to incorporate that horrifying experience into their lives without it defining them forever.

But they should at least be donating some or all of their money to Katrina Dawson or Tori Johnson’s families?

Well that’s a really beautiful thought. I say that sincerely. But the real question is, have you?

Because if anyone should be donating money to Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson’s families it is all of us who were lucky enough to NOT be there that day.

A field of flowers a tribute to the siege victims. 

The victims of the Sydney Siege owe us nothing. Marcia Mikhael, Robyn Hope, Louisa Hope, Paolo Vassallo, John O’Brien, Stefan Balafoutis, Elly Chen, Jieun Bae, Harriette Denny, Viswakanth Ankireddy, Joel Herat, Fiona Ma, Jarrod Hoffman, Puspendu Ghosh, Selina Win Pe, and Julie Taylor have paid an enormous price already.

That’s my opinion anyway.

So I don’t care if they sell their stories to Sixty Minutes or That’s Life Magazine. I don’t care if they turn up on Season 45 of Dancing With The Stars or pop up on Better Homes and Gardens telling Johanna Griggs the secret to their three-bean salad.

They have endured enough. And if telling their story and earning some money helps bring them peace or comfort or buys them even more time off work or counselling, I say go for it.

For what it’s worth, you have my blessing. Not that you needed it to begin with.

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