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Hillcrest Primary School Tragedy

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 3 March 2022

Tags: Condolence

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, the English language is inadequate for times like this, inadequate to put the words around our bottomless sorrow for those families who have lost so much, to the Hillcrest school community at the loss of such brilliant sparks of light and promise. How do we grapple with that loss of life and potential on that warm December morning?

Most Tasmanians will remember where they were when they heard. The feeling across the island was one of utter disbelief and growing grief, the heartbreak, as this tragedy unfolded.

I too, want to name those beautiful children who lost their lives that day: Peter Dodt, Chace Harrison, Jalailah Jones, Zane Mellor, Jye Sheehan and Addison Stewart. I also want to acknowledge the injuries suffered by Declean Brown, Beau Medcraft and others.

What vast rivers of grief those six beautiful children have left behind. For their parents, it must be so raw and all we can do as a parliament is express our love, send our strength.

I acknowledge, as the Premier referred to, the strength of community and the common humanity, the way the Hillcrest school community and Devonport itself wrapped its arms around those grieving families. I had a look at Hillcrest Primary's Facebook page yesterday: the love that they are showing for those kids and those families, the school activities for children affected by the tragedy over summer. Skateboarding, lunches, Lego, junior martial arts - the school community sticking together, grieving together and finding strength together.

As we know, trauma ripples outwards. The trauma in that community is felt across the island. There will also be trauma experienced by the people who were there, who were first on the scene. On behalf of the Greens, I, too, thank the people who were standing there attending that event, the first responders, those who rushed to try to help. They, too, must be feeling very raw. For those families, we cannot take away your pain but know that we know you suffer. We are here for you when and if you need us, not just a bunch of politicians but your fellow Tasmanians who grieve with you and stand with you.

I wanted to close with a statement that is on the Hillcrest Primary School website from the staff. It says:

The staff at Hillcrest Primary School extend their sincerest and deepest condolences to the families and friends of our 6 students tragically taken.

They will all be remembered for their unique contributions:

Addison, the quiet achiever;

Zane, the cheeky gamer;

Jye, the courageous one;

Peter, the helpful one;

Jalailah, the nurturing one; and

Chace, the sporty one.

The staff say:

Our hearts are broken that they will not grow to reach their full potential but we will always be grateful that we knew them.

'Hilly Kids' forever.