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Event Spotlight: Convicts For A Cause

Monday 26 August 2013

Event Spotlight: Convicts For A Cause

Convicts for a Cause is a unique fundraising event to support people impacted by cystic fibrosis, polio and liver disease. On September 12, participants in the event will be “locked up” in Fremantle Prison and must raise a minimum of $500 to post bail and be released. We chat to the event’s Chairman Jason Skinner about what sparked the event, the familiar faces headed behind bars next month and Fremantle Prison’s eerie history.

Convicts For A Cause is organised by the Rotary Clubs of Perth and Mt Lawley. Aside from obvious reasons, where did the initial desire to help those affected by cystic fibrosis, polio and liver disease come from?
The rights to this event are actually held by Cystic Fibrosis Western Australia (CFWA). The previous chairman Jarrod Brown has a cousin that suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, and so the Rotary clubs and Cystic Fibrosis were the founding charities of this event three years ago. CFWA contributes to the social, physical and emotional well-being of those affected by cystic fibrosis.

The Liver Foundation aims to promote awareness about liver health. It offers help, support and information to the general public about diagnosis, prevention and treatment of liver related diseases. We felt that educating the public on a disease that is not often promoted was a great cause.

Convicts for a Cause aims to “turn young lives into long lives”. 

The inaugural fundraiser in 2010 raised over $30,000 and last year saw over $90,000 raised for charity, what do you put the increase down to?
Convicts for a Cause is the ONLY place where you will get to see Politicians, Executives, Business People, Community Leaders and the like behind bars! The concept of locking up well-respected leaders in the community, with the only means of escape being to raise money for charity, is the reason for the increase in popularity each year. The more the community becomes aware of the event the greater the interest. 

In the past you’ve jailed Western Australian community leaders, politicians and renowned personalities, for those who haven’t signed up yet, who are some of the people they’ll keep company with this year?
This year we have signed up Michael Mischin (WA Attorney General), Simon Creek and Murray Thornhill - Directors from HHG Legal, Warren Harding - Senior Partner from Accenture and we can't forget John Garland for Garland International. They are only a few of the convicts that have put their hands up to get locked up! So there will definitely be some familiar faces behind bars!

What‘s some of the most interesting feedback you’ve received from your fundraising convicts?
The most common defense we hear from convicts raising money is "no one will want to let me out, they will pay more to keep me in!"

Holding the event at the heritage-listed Fremantle Prison is as eerie as it is educational, do you have any ghost stories for us?
Packing up at the end of the night is sure to be very unsettling as the lighting is never that good and no one is around!

“Martha Rendell was the last woman to be hanged in Western Australia. She was hanged at Fremantle Prison on 6 October 1909. The day after Martha's hanging an unusual image appeared on the outside of one of the church windows. It is said to be the portrait of Martha who watches over the prison.” - Wikipedia

You will have to come down on the night to see for yourself!

The idea of giving the prisoner a vested interest in raising money by literally taking away their freedom is the first of its kind, have any of your convicts failed to raise the $500 bail?
The $500 is just about always met - the fear of being left in the haunted prison motivates the convicts to exhaust everyone in their phonebook!

For more information on Convicts For A Cause or to sign up, see the official website.