Sandra Harvey was an award-winning journalist and author who blazed a trail for investigative and true crime writing in Australia.
Her books include Brothers in Arms on the Milperra bikie massacre which was made into the six-part TV series Bikie Wars; My Husband My Killer about the murder of Megan Kalajzich and The Killer Next Door about the serial killer John Wayne Glover, dubbed 'the Granny Killer. All were co-authored with Lindsay Simpson.
Sandra also wrote The Ghost of Ludwig Gertsch which led to a second inquest into his death, and co-authored Done Like a Dinner about well-known crimes related to restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne with Jennifer Cooke.
Sandra Harvey's father John was a NSW State Main Roads department administrative officer; her mother Fay worked as a computer expert with various organisations. The second oldest of their five children – four girls and a boy – Sandra grew up in the Sutherland Shire on Sydney's southern outskirts, and attended a Catholic primary school in Cronulla. She then attended Woolooware High School, where her friends presciently tagged her 'captain of vice' for her selection as school vice-captain in Year 12 in 1975. The Pictorial News suburban newspaper in the Sutherland Shire provided her with her entry into journalism. After graduating in 1980 as a high school teacher of history and English, she was assigned to a secondary school. But the lure of journalism and being a writer resulted in a switch in careers from education.
Sandra worked for the national wire service Australian Associated Press (1984–1989), then took a reporter's job at leading metropolitan daily the Sydney Morning Herald where she covered a host of crime stories, including the arrest of backpacker murderer Ivan Milat. She was senior media advisor to former New South Wales Police Minister, Paul Whelan, for six years. Whelan called her the 21st cabinet minister.
Leaving government, Sandra headed to the national broadcaster, the ABC, where she was a researcher-producer for the long-standing investigative television program Four Corners, following a recommendation from one of its long-standing senior journalists, Chris Masters.
Praise for her Four Corners work included the programs Homies, about past child abuse in Salvation Army homes and A Deathly Silence, about a teenage suicide and the taboos around discussing such deaths.
Her Four Corners work was recognised below.
Sandra swam almost every day at Coogee Beach and joined an adult swim squad at Botany Pool to increase her strength and confidence in the water so she could take on organised ocean swims such as the Cole Classic. Already a celebrated snow skier on land, she wanted to conquer the ocean (which she could see from her apartment window). So she completed her Bronze Medallion course on surf theory and practice to become a member of the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club.
An incessant reader, Sandra loved fine coffee, good food, great wine, generous conversation and was a much-loved and admired friend to many.
She died in January 2008 after a short battle with kidney cancer.