How Jonty Bush has emerged from two tragedies in her life
IF anyone had the right to live their life as a victim, it's Jonty Bush.
But even when I first met the young woman who was to be later named as Young Australian of the Year, I had a sense that her character was far stronger than that.
Life has thrown Jonty the worst circumstances any of us could imagine.
In July 2000, her younger sister Jacinta - a young mum who had been through so much with a sick baby - was brutally murdered by an obsessed boyfriend. She was stabbed more than 40 times.
Then just a few months later, Jonty's father, Robert, a man who had been the family's rock, was killed in an unprovoked attack after a dispute over the custody of Jacinta's little girl.
His killer was later acquitted using a controversial "accident" defence which meant Jonty never got to read the victim impact statement she had prepared for the court.
I first met Jonty when I was reporting on Jacinta's tragic death at a Mooloolaba resort.
Despite the turmoil she was going through, she was determined to see her sister, who had wanted to become a police officer and raise a solid family, remembered for who she was, not how she died.
Jonty was the one who had to identify her sister's body and the murder weapon, speak to police and organise Jacinta's funeral.
I still count it one of the greatest honours of my career that I was invited by Jonty to the service.
Jacinta, who was only 19 at the time, was remembered in a beautiful way.
She wasn't remembered as a victim - but as a person - and Jonty and the Bush family carried themselves with dignity despite the turmoil ripping at their hearts.
Jonty's story demonstrates the strength of the human spirit. But her strength is something I have seen in only a small number of people in the years I have been reporting.
She worked tirelessly with the Queensland Homicide Victim Support Group (QHVSG) to support other families bereaved by violence and raise awareness surrounding victim's rights.
She has been instrumental in the development and promotion of the One Punch Can Kill anti-violence campaign.
Jonty is not only passionate but super clever with a Bachelor of Business Management and a Masters in Criminology and Criminal Justice.
She is also an excellent ambassador for the Sunshine Coast Family Contact Centre which plays such an important role in protecting children and women dealing with the trauma of family breakdown and domestic violence.
Harmony House, as it is better known, celebrated 20 years of service to the Sunshine Coast on Friday.
More on their story on Monday.