“Renae has spoken repeatedly of her fear that she will never fit in [to society] again,” the friend continues.
“She is worried she won’t be able to find a job, fall in love again or negotiate a world she only knows from brief visits from family and friends.”
Much like fellow drug smuggler Schapelle Corby, who was released from prison in 2017, Renae will need to adjust to life on the outside.
“Remember, not only has Australia had seven prime ministers during this time, but the world has discovered social media like Facebook and Instagram, we now have Uber and so on – not to mention the cost of living has skyrocketed,” the source explains, adding that Renae has adjusted to life behind bars.
But there’s one person Renae won’t be turning to, to help her on the outside – and that’s former prisoner Schapelle.
Over the years, Renae has weathered ups and downs, suffered from bouts of depression, attempted suicide twice, and forged a friendship that was ultimately doomed with fellow inmate Schapelle.
“There was always tension between the two,” the friend reveals.
“Schapelle and Renae had a difficult relationship, but initially the two Australians relied on each other.
“Renae was known as ‘Daddy’ in Kerobokan Prison because she was so helpful and always kept busy by fixing things. She even rebuilt Schapelle’s bathroom and created a pool area for her.”
According to our source, Schapelle got all the attention from fellow inmates.
“Everyone wanted to know about Schapelle – she was prettier and more popular – but Renae didn’t care about that.”
It’s understood tensions eventually reached boiling point between the pair, who are no longer on speaking terms.
“Renae never enjoyed the support Schapelle was given by the Australian public and after her release the world seemed to forget about the remaining Australians.”
Meanwhile, the executions of fellow Bali Nine members Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in 2015 by a 12-man firing squad is still raw for Renae.
“She was devastated by the news. She retreated to her room, stopped the painting and dancing she had come to love and, far from the other members of the Bali Nine, who wore black armbands in memory of their friends, she suffered alone,” the source explains.
“Renae has adapted to life behind bars. She knew from early on that her only hope of survival was to keep busy. She took up Balinese dancing while still in Kerobokan jail, playing to her fellow inmates who had never seen her with makeup on. In her own style, she studied the man’s part.”
The Renae who left Kerobokan Prison following a bout of sickness found an unhappy home in the isolated Negara Prison, before being transferred to Bangli Prison in a quiet mountain town, which has been her home since March 2014.
Removed from the media spotlight of Kerobokan, she has embraced an Indonesian life there, speaks the language fluently, favours Indonesian food and is once again labelled a model prisoner who supports her fellow inmates.
As her release date approaches, New Idea understands Renae’s mother and brother will “help her take her first steps to freedom”.
“Unfortunately, her father, always supportive, is not well enough to make the trip and will be Renae’s first port of call on returning home.”
And with a fondness for fast food, Twisties and snakes, once free, Renae hopes to address her health and her weight, which has ballooned in the last couple of years.
“She carries a lot of guilt for what she’s put her family through,” the source adds.
“Renae can still build a life, but it’s whether she can forgive herself and move on that remains her greatest fear.”