Bali bombings legacy: the woman who built a memorial to her son, ‘but not of stone’
Craig Dunn was killed with a friend in the 2002 attacks on his first trip overseas. His mother Gayle built a community centre in their names and changed the lives of many
Dunn invited them to play because they were “the boys’” – as she refers to Craig and Danny – favourite band. Many in the crowd were mates of the boys and some are here with their children: young ones on shoulders, ear-protecting headphones on, and teenagers slamming into their first ever mosh pit.
Photograph: Dean Dampney/The GuardianShe stopped going out in the boat regularly when the kids were young, though still put them to sleep in the car sometimes on the edge of a lagoon so she could catch prawns to sell – coins going into a jar for Christmas presents – and when they were at school she sewed upholstery.
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Read more Back then, there was nothing here but bush.‘National cabinet needs to recognise that people with a disability, older people and immunocompromised people have been trapped for almost three years now,’ writes disability advocate Craig Wallace.“fired 7 rockets at high-rise buildings” while rescuers continue to pull people out from under the rubble..
Now, there’s the auditorium, a gymnastics facility, climbing wall, tenpin bowling alley, art gallery, cafe and multiple meeting rooms. Thousands of people – mostly from the local community – have cycled through its doors: teenagers disengaged from school doing alternative education and training programs; bowlers with a disability; artists, volunteers and school groups. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images Thu 6 Oct 2022 03. In an area used to scraping by with not many services, it’s positively grand. The UN nuclear agency chief is en route to Kyiv to discuss creating a security zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant , after Putin ordered his government to take it over. The Bodyjar gig is kicking off 12 days of consecutive events at the Dunn Lewis Centre, leading up to 12 October – the 20th anniversary of the Bali bombings.02 BST L announcement that the government intends to end mandatory isolation requirements was a gut punch for medically vulnerable people, especially towards the end of a long hard year that exposed what many felt was a disconnect between reality and the decisions of governments and public health authorities. Dunn invited them to play because they were “the boys’” – as she refers to Craig and Danny – favourite band.
Many in the crowd were mates of the boys and some are here with their children: young ones on shoulders, ear-protecting headphones on, and teenagers slamming into their first ever mosh pit. In many ways, for them, the situation feels much worse than 2020 – the community has moved on but the virus hasn’t – leaving us trapped and exposed. Ukraine’s forces are pushing their advance in the east and south, forcing Russian troops to retreat under pressure on both fronts. The song is One in a Million, released just a few months before the boys left for Bali. When it’s finished, Dunn – who is 63, with long blond hair streaked with silver and tied back in a ponytail, and wearing a plain black jumper, jeans and a pair of runners – appears at the side of the stage. People shared poignant stories of their ever-narrowing world and asked: where to now? Our needs are straightforward. There’s been a surf competition during the day and she gives the winner his prize, nods towards the crowd, then quickly darts off stage and disappears again. Ukraine has extended its area of control in the Kherson region by six to 12 miles , according to its military’s southern command. Craig Dunn was on his first trip overseas when he was killed in the Bali terrorist attacks. We also want full data transparency and access to health advice on the removal of public health requirements.
Photograph: Dean Dampney/The Guardian Dunn mostly raised Craig and his two siblings as a single mum. She’d left school at 15 and did piecework, sewing in factories in Sydney, before moving to Ulladulla and marrying a fisherman: going to sea, gutting sea urchins and sewing fishing nets. These include making public places such as schools, hospitals, offices and community facilities as Covid-safe as possible through air purification and mask use. The extent of Russia’s retreat remains unclear. She stopped going out in the boat regularly when the kids were young, though still put them to sleep in the car sometimes on the edge of a lagoon so she could catch prawns to sell – coins going into a jar for Christmas presents – and when they were at school she sewed upholstery. Craig, the eldest, always had his friends around. This includes the removal of mutual obligations for people at risk. Every summer Dunn would take a tribe of kids camping by a river for six weeks. The UN has warned Russia’s claimed annexation of Ukraine territory will only exacerbate human rights violations.
“Rules were: pyjamas were never allowed to get wet,” she says. Let’s see a commitment to implement the findings of the long Covid inquiry as well as clear clinical, rehabilitation and referral pathways. “Bedding and tents had to be done before dark and everyone had chores. Other than that, there weren’t many more rules and we always sat by the fire at night. National cabinet needs to recognise that people with a disability, older people and immunocompromised people have been trapped for almost three years now. Leaders from Ukraine , Britain and Turkey will join their EU counterparts in Prague on Thursday for a summit aimed at bringing the continent together in the face of Russia’s aggression. It was good fun.” While they “never had any money”, Dunn often picked up second-hand boats, water-skis, canoes, and snow and camping gear – fixing them up and making do. Yet this comes at a high cost to wellbeing and we need pathways back to living.
“We went to the snow every year without fail. “Why do we advance metre by metre when they advance village by village?” Olga Skabeyeva, the country’s top state-TV host, asked a Russia-appointed official in Luhansk in a recent broadcast. We had everything we wanted. We need actions that enable us to “carry on”. Even though it never cost us anything, we still had it all.” The trip to Bali was the first time Craig went overseas and his first holiday without his family. We also need a practical community development framework for those who remain isolated, including access to a guaranteed care workforce, essential medications and healthcare treatment. Dunn helped him open a bank account, organise a passport and booked him in for his vaccinations.
Craig, Danny and a third friend (who survived) planned a 17-day surfing trip. It’s not OK to simply say we are “moving on”. The night they entered the Sari Club, when the car bomb exploded outside, was day one. Afterwards, the boys’ mates back home organised a fundraiser – a dance party – and turned up at Dunn’s house with a cheque for $10,000. If we reflect on the toll of the last few years – a carnage of life, civil discourse and decency – we might still take pause and see a glimmer of hope as we approach the end of 2022. But she didn’t want the money. “To me, it did nothing,” she says.
“I asked them what they wanted, and they said, ‘a memorial but not of stone’. So that’s how it started.” T he first summer after Craig died, Dunn went camping with friends and started working on the vision of a place for people to get services, for young people to hang out. “We just wrote pages and pages of scribble,” she says. She organised a town meeting, gathered a coalition of supporters, set up a foundation to raise money, paid for a lease on a patch of crown land and by the first anniversary was turning the first sod on the site of the Dunn Lewis Centre.
Construction stalled when earthworks chewed up the first round of money and for three or four years “we just had a few things poking out of the ground”, Dunn says. She chased government grants and private donors. The first stage of the building opened in 2010; the second in 2020. Dunn oversaw construction – sourcing contractors, getting quotes and project managing the build. “I was the ‘pain in the arse’ on the build,” she jokes.
“I’m not a person that does strategic plans. They’re not my thing. People come in and they use all these big long words. I go, ‘just talk to me in English. It either is or it isn’t’.
” Someone set up a spreadsheet for her on the computer – the budget for the second stage alone was $4m – but she preferred to work in longhand, putting the entire budget in a notebook. (Her trick: “I always took the naughts off.”) Inside the centre, Dunn ‘feels like the boys are around all the time’. Photograph: Dean Dampney/The Guardian To get the project funded, Dunn had to network: with politicians, business people even celebrities. “It was never my thing, never my choice,” she says, “but you did it.
I’d drive to Sydney or Canberra, go to these functions. It was always quite uncomfortable because I always went by myself. I’ve learned a lot along the way because filters, they’re not my thing.” She recalls being at a corporate breakfast and introducing herself to the then federal treasurer, Joe Hockey, by saying, “I’m Gayle. I’m from Dunn Lewis.
And I want to know whether you can give me some money.” While the look on people’s faces taught her she “wasn’t supposed to say that”, she thought: “Well that was the only reason I was there. I wasn’t there to like him, I wanted him to give us money.” “I’ve never met a woman like her,” says Jo Gash, who was Dunn’s federal MP at the time of the bombings. Gash attended the first town hall meeting for the Dunn Lewis Centre and was a steadfast supporter of the project.
“She worked across all political divides. She never lost sight of what she wanted to do. She never wanted glory or kudos. I remember I had to really convince her to come to the Parliament House for the Bali bombings ceremony and she didn’t even want to do that. She didn’t want to be out in public.
She’d just wanted to work towards what she wanted to do.” app Untold numbers of young people have had their life trajectories altered inside the Dunn Lewis Centre. Blake Graham, now in his late 20s, was one of the first through the doors when it opened in 2010. He was 16, out of school and unemployed. “I was kind of a person in a shell.
I didn’t talk to anybody,” he says. After he did a Tafe course that was run through the centre, Dunn gave him a job as a technician at the bowling alley, eventually coaxing him into working “front of house”. Today, married with children, he has a career as a technology support officer at the Department of Education. “If I didn’t have that stepping stone from Gayle that allowed me to open up, I honestly don’t know where I’d be now,” Graham says. G rief is not something that disappears and Dunn is not expecting the upcoming anniversary of Craig’s death to be any easier or harder than the past 20 years.
“About the same,” she says. “It doesn’t go away. But I’ll be busy. Keep busy and it’s OK. As you get older, I think different things trigger you to what it did when you were younger.
But I never put myself in that position usually, where something’s going to trigger me.” Over the years, she’s learned how to quietly slip away from certain events and conversations. She draws solace from the fact she has “no regrets” about Craig’s childhood and her choice to prioritise time with her kids above all else. Other than the company of friends and camping – “camping does wonders for people” – Dunn never sought out any formal mental health support to deal with the loss of her son. “Maybe I should have,” she says.
“But if I did that, I might not have done this” – by which she means building the Dunn Lewis Centre. The Dunn Lewis Centre has been a stepping stone for countless young people in the area. Photograph: Dean Dampney/The Guardian Dunn Lewis Centre Ulladulla. Photograph: Dean Dampney/The Guardian When it was closed during the Covid lockdowns, Dunn – who, along with her daughter Karlee, manages the centre – still went in every day. Karlee and her young children came too.
Over lockdown Dunn set up tents for her grandkids inside and a spit to cook meat out the back, and played at camping. Inside the centre, Dunn says, she “feels like the boys are around all the time”. I ask Dunn if she ever sits back and thinks, “Wow, I’ve actually been a part of creating something pretty amazing for this community”. “Yeah, no,” she answers. “It’s not finished.
” “But it’s pretty amazing,” I say. “Well, we’re not finished yet. The car park still has to be extended and we need a green room for bands to play.” Topics .