Shutting Down Sharleen

Hindsight, 2010
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Sharleen Spiteri was a sex worker, a drug user, and she was HIV+. In July 1989, Sharleen Spiteri appeared on the national current affairs TV program 60 Minutes and told reporter Jeff McMullen that she tried to get her clients to practice safe sex, but sometimes they wouldn't cooperate. As a result, the NSW government took Sharleen from her flat under police guard, and forcibly detained her in a locked AIDS ward, a mental hospital and a disused nursesâ home. After she was released from detention, Sharleen spent much of the remaining 16 years of her life under 24-hour supervision by health workers. She became the most expensive public patient in NSW history. This program uses the techniques of investigative journalism, including exclusive original interviews with politicians, bureaucrats, health workers, carers, sex workers, nuns and journalists, as well as extensive archival research and material obtained through FOI to uncover the background to Sharleenâs story. It raises important issues about the relationship between the media and public policy, and the clash between individual civil liberties and governmentâs responsibility to protect public interest. Co-producer/author Tom Morton author delivered a paper based on the documentary at Back to the Source, the national Investigative Journalism Conference held at UTS on September 17th-18th 2011. Paper was published in Pacific Journalism Review in 2012. Awards/Competitions/Festivals 2010 Gold Radio Award, New York Festivals:,1&wp=info&id=405202 Finalist, John Curtin Award for Journalism, Victorian Premierâs Literary Awards, 2010
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