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People of Cessnock is a blog by local resident, Rebecca Murray. The project seeks to value the people of her home town by sharing their stories value and raising the profile of people living outside metropolitan areas.



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“I was born in John Hunter hospital. That was in 1996. Then mum found out she had cervical cancer in November, 98. They told her she had a few months to live.

So, they had an early birthday for us - me and my twin brother. She was very sick at the party; skinny and weak. She was in a wheelchair. I’ve seen the photos.

We were born in February. She passed away 5 days before our 3rd birthday.

In the months before she died she fought to make sure that my aunt would have legal custody of my elder twin sisters and for my grandparents to have custody of my brother and I.

My dad was a drug dealer in Kurri Kurri. At first, we would go to him on some weekends. He was abusive. I have a memory of him throwing us into walls. And I remember this one time, there was a man who knocked on the front door. He was buying drugs or maybe my dad owed him money for drugs – I don’t know – but he had a gun and he aimed it at me and I was terrified.

We’d go back to my grandparents with bruises and cigarette burns and they eventually took it to court to stop him from being allowed to see us.

The last time I saw him I was seventeen. I just stared him down. He died the next year and I regretted not being able to tell him what I thought of him.”

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“My best friend lived with her grandma as well. We used to go on all these camps with other kids in ‘kinship care’ – kids living with their aunties or grandparents or whatever.

You’d see a lot of kids who were determined not to turn out like their parents did but some of them just couldn’t give a crap about it. Like, they’d just had so much that had happened to them. And it was just, like, the cycle repeating itself. It was just really sad to see.

I think for me, I always wanted to do something. I always wanted to make something of myself.

I had wanted to be a journalist and work for a newspaper or something like that. So, I was applying for Media and Communications and I was looking through the course catalogue – the big textbook sort-of thing - and I happened to look at Criminology and I thought, ‘That’s interesting.’ And I looked into it and I thought, ‘I really like that.’ And then I’m like, ‘Oh … Law! I might whack that on the back of it.’ And that’s how I picked my degree. It was a bit funny.

I was more determined when people told me I wouldn’t be able to do that. That I wouldn’t be able to get into law and I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own. And I thought, ‘Well, now I just want to prove you wrong.’

And I got into it and I thought, ‘If I can get into it, I must be smart enough to do it.’ So, I just gave it a go. And I really liked it so I’ve just stuck with it.

I graduate at the end of this year.”

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“Sometimes when there was, like, fighting at home I used to come up here … cause you can see our house from here. It was usually driving or riding a bike. The lagoon used to be full and I just loved the mountains and things. It’s just really pretty.

I always felt kind-of guilty - feeling sad about losing my mum - when I was living with my grandad who had lost his daughter. I didn’t want him to feel sad about it. But I think it’s good to talk and be open about it because she was a person who everyone loved. And I feel, like, by not talking about her when I was little, everyone – well not everyone forgot about her – but she wasn’t as big a part of my life as she could have been. She was just kind-of pushed to the side cause no one talked about her.

I don’t remember anything about her.

But when mum died, she left a book each for all us four kids that she’d written in and she put some photos in and we got it on our 18th birthday. So, I got that and in it she wrote, “Don’t let a man push you around” - which I haven’t. But she also said to go and see things. “Go and travel the world … things I never got to do.”

So, I kind of want to go and live that for her as well.

I’m going to the UK at the end of the year to test out where I want to move. I wanna live overseas maybe for a few years. I just want to go somewhere a bit different. I thought either Scotland or Canada. So, I’m just going to go to the UK to see if I like it or not. And I feel like she’ll be there with me when I go and do all that sort of thing.

Jodie. That was her name.”