QT: Saturday, June 11, 2011.
QT: Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Rapist's award an ethical dilemma

IPSWICH people were outraged at the weekend that a volunteer who helped during the floods was uninvited to a disaster heroes ceremony.

Bob Riddler was convicted of a violent rape in 1997 and spent 12 years in jail before being released last September.

He volunteered at Shiloh Christian Church in Goodna when the floods hit, as he tried to turn his life around.

Mr Riddler received a letter from Premier Anna Bligh telling him he was nominated by people in the community as a Queensland Disaster Hero.

But four days later he was told it would be “inappropriate” for him to attend, as reported in The Queensland Times on Saturday.

Comments flooded on to The Queensland Times' website; mostly in support of Mr Riddler.

Readers comments included: “This fellow has done the time for his crime ... The award is about what people did in the flood – not what they did over a decade ago”, “Give the man his award, he deserves it. Bob don't give up, and keep re-building your life for the good”, “This is a terrible thing to do to someone who is trying to be a better person” and “The Queensland Government should hang its head in absolute shame”.

Another reader said: “Bob, if what readers here who have commented is anything to go by, you have the support, thanks and compassion of Ipswich, regardless of what the government has to say.”

A Facebook group, called “Give Bob Riddler his award, Anna. He's done his time” was also created at the weekend.

Ms Bligh defended the decision to uninvite Mr Riddler to the awards ceremony, telling reporters “hopefully he understands”.

“If he's really going to turn his life around, he needs to understand why it wouldn't have been appropriate for him to be here today,” Ms Bligh said.

Mr Riddler said the Premier's comments were a “kick in the guts” but it was great to hear other people were willing to give him a “fair go”.

“Stuff like that isn't going to beat me and defeat me,” Mr Riddler said.

“You're one step forward and then they drag you two or three steps back.

“A lot of the system is set up for failure – I'm going to prove to them that I'm not one of their failures.”

Mr Riddler said he would continue to give back to the community.

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