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Hunt for the Family Court Killer, The (ATOM Study Guide)

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Brand: ATOM
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SKU: SG1919

NB: This study guide includes both a full guide as well as a condensed Grab and Go version.

A violent chapter in the 1980s, known collectively as the Family Court murders and bombings, is one of Australia’s most notorious and least understood true crime sagas. Assassinations and fatally indiscriminate explosions against people, property and institutions between 1980–1985 was baffling destruction on a terrifying scale. While police and government failed to solve each successive escalating crime, a country also lost its innocence.

This period of shocking violence occurred at a time of massive social change in Australia when traditional gender roles were challenged, financial independence for women increased and divorce laws changed. The new Family Court of Australia was established, seeking to aid couples in marriage breakdown and to streamline the process of divorce, custody and settlement. The backlash against progressive reforms saw the rise of men’s rights groups challenging many of these changes.

The Family Court murders and bombings were terrorist acts against judges and their families. The bomber’s contempt for the general public grew, as multiple victims became embroiled in the events. Many of them were scarred for life, grieving and living in fear, as the events remained unpunished and the culprit stayed at-large. In 1986, the violence suddenly stopped. The murders were closed up and ignored, and the crimes became an unsolved case for some three decades. But in 2012, Chief Detective Inspector Pamela Young reopened the files.

Working with a small team for three years, armed with new forensic technology and diving into the original investigative files, Pamela successfully put the jigsaw together. The investigation resulted in the arrest and subsequent conviction of Leonard John Warwick in 2020.

Curriculum Links:

The Hunt for the Family Court Killer has relevance to middle and senior school students in the learning areas of:

  • HASS (Civics and Citizenship)
  • English
  • The Arts (Media Studies)

It can also be linked to the general capabilities of Literacy and Ethical Understanding.

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