In a moving maiden speech to NSW Parliament, witnessed by her sons, her mother, her sister who travelled from Queensland and a legion of community members and Labor luminaries past and present, Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle recounted a harrowing story of domestic violence and mental illness and explained how that had informed her politics.
Ms Doyle said as an eight-year-old she was met by her father at the bottom of her bed with a rifle. Moments later "there are shrieks and screams and gunshots" as she "races to collect brothers and her sister and pull them close, back under the covers of her bed".
The four small children were taken to "an orphanage of sorts" while their mother recovered "from the emotional and physical trauma of a severe beating and internal haemorrhaging". It was not an isolated case.
The ex-Canberra girl grew up in a Housing Commission home in "abject poverty" but has gone on to become a member of the oldest parliament in Australia.
"As we all are products of our environment and our experiences, so is the case for this working class girl who made it from the housing commission home to the legislative assembly chamber of NSW Parliament," she told the Parliament today.
"I am the product and the recipient of what good old Labor Party policy and values delivered: public housing, public education, public health...I survived to tell my story against the odds, really," she said.
Ms Doyle said she hoped to shine a light on domestic violence "and its devastating impact on children; the lives it destroys, the pain it inflicts ... to ensure that others might not need to experience what my family did".
She thanked her legion of supporters, with one telling the Gazette there was "lots of laughter, applause and tears" from the gallery during the speech.
Quoting Emily Dickinson, Ruth Park and lastly Nelson Mandela, the former teacher also expressed support for help for those with mental illness (having lived with a husband who suffered from it) and for the institution of TAFE.
Ms Doyle described herself as someone who was "strong enough to bear whatever might come" in life. And using the words of Mandela, she said she was "fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair."