Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Newton, Mrs Joyce, OAM
As members and senators in the Australian parliament, we all come into daily contact with people in our community who go above and beyond to support various community groups and organisations. In my own electorate of Fisher, I'm surrounded by selfless volunteers who dedicate more of their time to community groups than they do to themselves. They are the unsung heroes of our communities, the people who make things tick and keep the fabric of our community together.
This evening, I rise to speak about Mrs Joyce Newton from Maleny, who well and truly dedicated much of her adult life to giving back to others and supporting those in need. Sadly, the world and the small but very close township of Maleny lost Joyce Newton on Thursday, 11 October after a courageous battle with motor neurone disease. Joyce Newton and her husband, Greg, enjoyed 45 years of married life. Greg has been left without his best friend and his partner in life, and I pass my deepest condolences on to Greg and their children, Ty, Jennifer, Daniel and Carl, and their grandchildren at this time.
Joyce reflected recently that her greatest passion throughout her life was education and working at the two local schools in Maleny. In her early teaching years, she taught maths and science, but once her family started arriving she went on to work as a relief teacher. She also ran the tuckshop and sat on both schools' P&Cs. When Joyce retired from her career as a schoolteacher, she threw herself into assisting many of our hinterland community groups. This included restarting the Maleny community kindergarten, running the blood bank at the hospital, keeping the Maleny guides and the playgroup going, building an indoor activity centre at the high school, setting up the Maleny Hospital Auxiliary and overseeing the soccer club's transition from Churches to the Maleny Rangers soccer club. She also, remarkably, found time to sit on the advisory group of the Maleny Community Precinct.
Realising that she couldn't be everywhere at once, Joyce eventually decided to focus her efforts on helping the Maleny swimming pool committee and the Maleny Girl Guides. Up until her diagnosis and even beyond, Joyce was dedicated to ongoing fundraising and other events linked to those clubs. Joyce's commitment and dedication to the Maleny swimming pool in particular were well known. She was instrumental in establishing the committee that oversaw the construction of the Maleny community swimming pool in 1983 and was involved in keeping it running until recent years. Joyce's ultimate dream was to see the project to upgrade the Maleny community pool funded and delivered. Joyce's dream was to one day be able to look down from above and see this project completed.
Joyce was also a fierce supporter of the Liberal National Party, having been a member for 37 years, and in 2017 was recognised for her service with an honorary life membership. When Joyce accepted her award at the annual LNP conference, there was not a dry eye in the room. Just before she was presented with this award, Joyce was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. As many in this place would know, there's no cure for motor neurone disease. Motor neurone disease is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells degenerate and die. Joyce certainly fought to the end and even agreed to participate in medical trials to provide research into the complexities of this disease in an effort to one day find a cure.
In what will no doubt be remembered by many of her closest friends and family as one of the most special days since her diagnosis, on 4 June 2018 Joyce was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.
Joyce's nearest and dearest gathered at the Newton home to see the Governor of Queensland, His Excellency Paul de Jersey, AC QC, personally present her with this prestigious award. Joyce wasn't able to speak herself on this momentous occasion, but she prepared a speech that was delivered by voice prompter, in which she reflected on her life journey and the gratitude felt at being acknowledged in this way. She thanked the governor for making the trip and also thanked those in attendance. In summarising her community service and the efforts that had led to this award, Joyce had this to say: 'I can look back now with pride at what the Maleny community has accomplished.' Vale Joyce Newton. We love you.