Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise tonight to honour and give thanks for the too-short life of my constituent and friend and Green volunteer, Amber Meredith, who died on 1 March this year at the age of 51.
Amber was gentle, thoughtful, clever, kind and creative. She also suffered from schizophrenia, and many of her hopes for life were derailed by a schizophrenia diagnosis when she was in her 20s.
Amber was a real character and we had some wonderful conversations. She was wise and insightful. At her funeral service, her dad told us a little bit more about Amber's life, and I will read from his statement:
She was always a bright and clever child who learned quickly and enjoyed learning new things. She was an avid reader and enjoyed writing stories; she was very good at maths. She did very well academically, both at school at university. Academic study came easy to her and she enjoyed the success that it brought her.
She did postgraduate courses most recently in creative writing. She became a high school teacher and was a very good teacher, although she did struggle with crowd control. Not only did she teach English and social studies, she also taught drama, which she enjoyed most of all, maths and even Indonesian.
She loved creative writing and wrote very well. She was an excellent writer of blogs, which I know some of the people at the service will have read. She was also in the process of writing a memoir of her life. She was a big fan of C.S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles, especially The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which she must have read a hundred times.
She was a big fan of the music of the band U2, she enjoyed being part of a choir, which she was very disappointed to have to withdraw from when COVID 19 came along.
She was very keen on social justice issues and was a proud supporter of the Greens.
And she was, Mr Deputy Speaker. We were very happy to have her as a volunteer in our office.
She was a strong advocate for better mental health services, she enjoyed acting and public speaking, and she also enjoyed cooking and cooked some amazing meals.
She loved animals, especially animals she could pat, and even more especially cats. She had a number of cats in her adult years, and her most treasured cat, Shadow, was a great comfort and companion for her in her past few years.
She was a very loyal friend and had a wide friendship network in Hobart and beyond. Some of her friends wrote beautiful tributes to Amber on Facebook.
She was very much loved, loving and a generous member of the wider Meredith family
She was a seeker of knowledge, especially knowledge about religion. She had many discussions about religion with her nana and also with members of her church. Most important to her, she was a very committed Christian. Her Christian faith kept her going when times were really tough for her. She enjoyed playing a significant role in the development and operation of her recently new church in Glenorchy. She was very grateful for the support that her Christian faith, and those associated with it, provided to her.
Amber is very much missed. I enjoyed reading her blog very much. I wanted to read a little story she wrote about her cat, Shadow, who was a very handsome cat, I might say. Amber writes:
Shadow is an incredibly beautiful looking cat. He is a long-haired, black and white cat with big, soulful green eyes. The markings on his face are symmetrical and his coat is fluffy and shiny. I am always telling him how beautiful he is and I even sing to him. Shadow and I understand each other because we both have mental illnesses. No, I'm not joking.
Shadow is on medication for his anxiety and mood swings and it works both ways. Shadow is such a comfort to me when I am unwell. His cat cuddles are so healing and he loves me because I first loved him. I don't have to prove anything to him. Shadow hates the vet. He growls and howls and won't take his medication. I can only imagine how difficult it must've been for him. The vets, fortunately, were very calm and supportive and let me pay off some of his vet fees.
The expense of vet bills, medication, and special food has been difficult to deal with, but I have had a lot of help and support from family and friends. The thought of losing Shadow terrified me at the time, but now I have come to terms with it. No one lasts forever on this Earth anyway, so I am grateful for everyday that I have with him.
I was grateful for every day that I knew Amber Meredith. I pass on my sincere, heartfelt sorrow to Amber's family and friends and the many people who knew and loved her. As she wrote at the top of her blog, 'Amber is the colour of the sun'. She brought a lot of sunshine into our lives. Vale Amber. It was a privilege to know you. Thank you for the chats and for your wisdom. You will be in my heart, always.