House debates

Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Constituency Statements

Richardson, Mrs Wendy

9:36 am

Photo of Warren EntschWarren Entsch (Leichhardt, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today with a very heavy heart to speak on the passing of Wendy Richardson, a much loved and devoted speech and language pathologist who has left a very indelible mark on our community.

The sting of this tragedy is not only the profound sense of loss but the stark realisation that Wendy's untimely demise could have been, and, indeed, should have been avoided. Wendy Richardson was lost at sea following a boating accident in the Torres Strait. It was a journey she undertook out of necessity because civil aviation authorities suspended flights from landing on some of the remote islands in the Torres Strait. It is an ill-advised decision, and one that I and the airline operations in the region, like Skytrans, have been calling for a reversal of since its implementation. The move by CASA has left the community and its visitors with little choice but to travel by boat—a far riskier option. Wendy was simply trying to do her job, reaching out to children who needed her help on Mubuiag Island. But this regulatory decision forced her to undertake a journey that ultimately ended in tragedy.

Wendy's heart was boundless, as was her commitment to the people that she served. She offered her time and skills to innumerable organisations across our region. Her selflessness, dedication and tireless service over many years will be sorely missed. The pride of Wendy's life was her four children, Mike, Brad, Nathalie and Trent. Wendy will be greatly missed by her family, as well as her dear friends and her sisters, Lindy Shepherd and Julie Ryan.

After growing up in Cairns, Wendy studied at UQ in Brisbane, qualifying as a Bachelor of Speech Therapy Speech-Language Pathology. Her early career took her to Hobart, on to Perth and back to Cairns with her speech pathology business. Wendy settled in her own slice of paradise up at the Atherton Tablelands, and her work saw her travel across wide areas of Far North Queensland. Her commitment to others is seen in her volunteering efforts for organisations including Anglicare North Queensland, the Mayoress of Cairns community trust, the national literacy advisory group and the Bravehearts Foundation.

I'd like to extend my deepest condolences to all of Wendy's extended family. I just can't imagine the sorrow you must be feeling. Wendy will be forever missed and forever remembered as the remarkable woman that she was.

We cannot allow Wendy's death to be in vain. We don't need another of these accidents to occur. CASA has to review its decision. It has to do that before we see another accident.

Rest in peace, Wendy. You've been an outstanding and wonderful friend, and a great citizen of our community. You will be missed.


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