But the former social worker was exonerated in a withering September 2012 report that found that the man she complained about and confronted, pedophile Dennis John McKenna, thrived on the inaction and help of officials.
Ms Dawkins said she considered herself a failed whistleblower because she was unable to stop the rapes at St Andrew's Hostel in the West Australian farming town of Katanning.
But a special inquiry into the misery at St Andrew's found Ms Dawkins met the gold standard for a public official in her "persistent attempts to put right what she correctly believed to be wrong".
Four of McKenna's victims - now men in their 30s and 40s - hugged Ms Dawkins outside parliament yesterday.
McKenna was the warden of the Katanning hostel between 1975 and 1990 when children from outlying areas lived there so they could attend Katanning Senior High School.
McKenna was the town's trusted and charismatic Citizen of the Year.
But behind closed doors, he was raping the boys he was supposed to be looking after.
McKenna groomed and controlled the whole town.
He has 11 known victims.
Ms Dawkins was a group leader in a government program for children at St Andrew's in late 1985 when a former student told her that McKenna had abused him.
She took the allegation of sexual abuse to local police, her bosses and even confronted McKenna himself.
But she was moved on at McKenna's request.
Court praises whistleblower, Paige Taylor and Nicholas Perpitch, The Australian, 20 September 2012 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/court-praises-whistleblower/story-fn59niix-1226477646129