Pain from Bali bombing hasn’t faded, PM says

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says Australians still “still hurt” 20 years after the Bali bombings, calling it an act of terrorism and cowardice.

The country is mourning the deaths of 202 people, including 88 Australians, when militants detonated a bomb near a popular nightclub in Kuta on 12 October 2002.

Images of death and debris still haunt the memories of families who have lost loved ones.

Albanese was due to attend a memorial service at the Coogee Dolphins Rugby League Club in Sydney, from which 11 players went to Bali, but only five returned home.

“It’s been 20 years and the pain hasn’t gone away,” he told ABC RN on Wednesday.

“The shock wave from Bali did reach our shores and 88 Australians lost their lives in this act of terror and cowardice.

“To have a tragedy like what happened there…that we are not free from terrorism has reverberated throughout our country.”

The Prime Minister said the bombing “really, really upset Australians”.

Dale Atkin was one of more than 200 injured, and returning home has pushed him to the limit.

What should have been a carefree night at the Sari Club resulted in burns on almost half of my body. They were half the depth of his cricket ball and his chances of survival were slim.

The roof of Bali’s hut collapsed and he and his friends had to crawl out surrounded by fire and debris.

Atkin, now 47, said: “I will always honor those who lost their lives, but it could have been worse.

It took over a decade before I saw a counselor and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

He was also haunted by survivor’s guilt.

“I wasn’t feeling well. I was reliving it every day so I could tell you in detail where all the flames were,” he said.

His wife, Katie, and their three children were the driving force behind him from the depths of despair.

Twenty years later, he still encourages others affected by traumatic events to speak up and seek help.

“I want people to know that there is nothing to be ashamed of,” Atkin said.

Commemorative ceremonies are held all over the country.

A memorial service will be held at the Houses of Parliament in Canberra and the Australian flag will be flown at half-mast across the country.

The Gold Coast’s Alamby Memorial Park hosts a sunset service with a bronze plaque bearing the names of the 88 lost people.

Among them is Robert Thwaites, whose parents started an Indonesian-style memorial after he died in the bombing.

His father, Jeff, said that even after 20 years, memory was never easy.

“Bob was 25 years old. He had a bright future ahead of him,” he said.

“Your feelings don’t change, but time moves away from you.”



Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.