Thursday, 8 October 2020
Van Dijk, Ms Trish
When the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, on his 90th birthday, was asked to explain his long life, he responded by saying, 'The secret is to be happy, keeping busy doing what you enjoy doing.' Trish van Dijk, a fellow writer and political activist, would have agreed, on her 90th birthday earlier this year. Yet, sadly, Trish died last week. But she, like Shaw, had kept busy, was happy and engaged and enjoyed doing what she was doing. Trish and her late husband, Bill, were schoolteachers and they lived in Central Australia for many years. In their retirement, they remained in Alice Springs and devoted their time to numerous community groups. Bill was active in sport and Rotary. Trish gave her time, over many, many years, to the Australian Labor Party, as a local sub-branch president, secretary and treasurer, volunteering for letterboxing, staffing market stalls, assisting at early voting centres and on polling day and, importantly—as all members in this House would appreciate—actively and continually fundraising, whether it be through monster raffles, popular cinema evenings, lawn and garage sales or hosting dinners for ministers and shadow ministers, all tasks eagerly undertaken, especially if there was a social element to the exercise to be completed. Trish was tireless, energised with the spirit that has maintained Labor and the Labor movement throughout its history.
Trish was a scholar with faith in reason and debate. At branch meetings, with her quiet determination, Trish and the chair ensured that, no matter how robust the discussion, when emotion was replacing judgement, structure and procedure were maintained. Trish relished our representative process of parliament, elections, and the preferential voting system. To her, the final result giving authority to the candidate or a party depended on a consensus of opinions rather than the narrow view of a few. For Trish, the disappointment of election loss was tempered by the process of open, honest, hardworking campaigning by candidates and their supporters, encouraging as many as possible to turn out to make their choice.
Trish also committed to many other activities throughout Alice Springs and Central Australia. She was active in the Alice Springs Arts Centre's Friends of Araluen, the University of the Third Age and the local theatre group, was a visitor to the Alice Springs jail and was a member of Rotary. Trish had style and panache—always immaculately dressed. She was a good friend to me and many others and, to me particularly, an adviser and a touchstone. She'll be sadly missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her. This morning, her funeral is taking place in Alice Springs and there will be many there to celebrate her life, a life so well lived, and her contribution to our community. May she rest in peace.