Senate debates

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Fitz-Nead, Ms Joan, AM

6:59 pm

Photo of Carol BrownCarol Brown (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Payments) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to pay tribute to a truly inspirational woman. Last Thursday, I was privileged to attend a ceremony organised by Goulburn Street Primary School to honour Joan Fitz-Nead AM. The ceremony was attended by the Premier, Lara Giddings; Alderman Jeff Briscoe, Debbie Woods and Nobby Griffiths from the Hobart City Council; principal, Gay Cumming; past principal, Carol Mackel; and Goulburn Street Primary School students from year 5/6 Harrison.

The ceremony, conducted by the students, took place at the Peace Park in West Hobart of which Joan is a co-founder. In my contribution I could do no better than use the words of the students themselves. Their words were expressed with warmth, admiration and gratitude. The students told the moving story behind the deed to obtain a bench seat for the Peace Park dedicated to the hardworking and passionate Joan Fitz-Nead:

As part of Harmony Day in March this year it was decided to visit the Peace Park. Mr Harrison like any good teacher never lets a chance go by and invited Joan over to talk to us about the Peace Park.

Joan came loaded with old photos, plans, her 2003 award and lots of stories about the park, its beginnings, and the beautiful sandstone sculpture. One thing that we all noticed was Joan's passion. She also happily answer questions and told us stories that made us think about not giving up and how you can get things done.

Someone asked her the question, "What did she think that the park still needed?" One of the things that she mentioned was more seats.

Later that day when we were discussing Joan, Reuben Connor, suggested that we should try and organise a seat to recognise Joan's wonderful contribution to West Hobart. We all thought that this would also help solve the lack of seating and thank Joan from the West Hobart community.

On contacting the Hobart City Council, the students were told that they could have the bench and the plaque but that they would have to pay half the cost. Not giving up, the students wrote letters to all of the Parks and Customer Services Committee, chaired by Mr Briscoe—and success. An email was received to say that the seat and plaque would go ahead at a better price, and a better price was agreed upon. The students then embarked on fundraising. The funds were raised and a beautiful park bench crafted by Nobby Griffiths appeared.

On the day of the dedication, this is what the students had to say:

Today we are celebrating Joan's wonderful contribution to Tasmania, and especially her contribution to the community of West Hobart.

In the 1950's Joan trained as a midwife and worked in Australia and later England and Canada.

We know that Joan moved to Tasmania in 1964 and then trained as a Maths and Science teacher.

Joan was also invited to set up and manage a special school for girls who are at risk of expulsion or refused to go to school.

Joan has chaired the Alcohol and Drug Dependency Tribunal, was a member of the Accountability and Working Group as a part of the review of local government act, was the head of the School of Child Care at TAFE and was instrumental in establishing an Associate Diploma of Child Care, Trustee of the Tasmanian Peace Trust, a Member of the Republican Movement, a Life Member of the Labor Party and lots of other things that we really didn't understand.

However we do understand the phrase "a tireless worker" a role model for our community and a long time member of the Goulburn Street Primary Association. Joan has committed her life to advancing the principles of social justice. We are so thankful for inspiring many of us to put others before yourself. Without her hard work and dedication this wonderful park and so many other things would not be there.

The plaque says:

Dedicated to Joan Fitz-Nead AM

An extremely passionate West Hobart citizen who is making the world a more peaceful place. Goulburn Street Primary School 2013

Joan's acceptance speech was truly humble, but she was pleased and very proud of her students for what they had been able to achieve. Together with Senator Lin Thorp, I would like to say that Joan Fitz-Nead has been an inspiration to us for over 30 years. Joan has never wavered from her determination that every child, regardless of their circumstances, is respected and supported. She has been a champion of all who need support, whether they are living with a disability, coming from a low socioeconomic background or coming here as refugees. She believes in justice and equity. She talks the talk and is a treasure with a wicked sense of humour. I would particularly like to put on record my thanks to the students from Goulbourn Street Primary School year 5/6 Harrison who took Joan's words of wisdom of never giving up and used them to honour a great woman. I thank them.