Published: 09 March 2022

 Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I acknowledge the very sincere contributions made before me.

In speaking to this motion, I express my deep sadness and offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the six precious children whose lives were lost following the incident that took place at Hillcrest Primary School on 16 December 2021.

I note words can seem totally inadequate to express the enormity of the loss experienced by the families, friends, school and broader community on that tragic day. These six children, still at the beginning of life's journey, Peter Dodt, Chace Harrison, Jalailah Jones, Zane Mellor, Jye Sheehan and Addison Stewart were taken too soon from their loved ones. They will always remain a special part of the Hillcrest and north-west community. I also acknowledge the children who were significantly injured during the incident as well, including Declean Brown and Beau Medcraft and wish them a speedy recovery from what has been a devastating ordeal and a difficult time for them and their families.

At the time I saw the news I was actually attending an end-of-year school celebration and as I read in shock and disbelief that such an incident was unfolding I found it impossible to really grasp what was happening. As other members have said, I can clearly recall where I was when I heard the news and where I was on the road to Hobart as the news continued to unfold at each point. There were no words, only deep sadness and shock, as I thought about the families and the school community, the first responders and others directly impacted.

Right across the state, the country and throughout the world people were deeply shocked by the tragic incident at Hillcrest Primary School. Messages were indeed received from around the world as the news came through. All of us were shocked and deeply saddened by what we were hearing. I personally found it almost impossible to believe what I was hearing and simply could not imagine the deep anguish and deep, deep sorrow that would be experienced by the families and those directly impacted at the time of this tragic event.

Losing your child must be one of the most dreaded and most shattering of life's experiences. My heart literally ached and continues to ache for those who lost a child in this tragedy. I simply cannot imagine or comprehend the pain and deep anguish all families and friends of these young children must have and continue to experience.

I respectfully offer my heartfelt sympathy to those families and friends of these children in their bereavement and the many people who have been deeply affected. I also add my heartfelt thanks and deep respect to the first responders, teachers and school-based staff and health professionals and all those who have been impacted by this incident that took place on 16 December 2021. I know the impact on these people will be lifelong. It will never leave them. It is clear the whole community has been deeply impacted by this tragedy and I extend my thoughts and support to the community as each member of the community individually and collectively begins and continues through the long process of healing and ongoing recovery.

I acknowledge those who continue to support and assist these families who were impacted and the school community, knowing that this work will continue well into the future. I stand with the Government in their commitment to the Hillcrest community and in particular to the families of the children who passed away and who were injured in this tragedy as collectively we continue to provide the support they need and will continue to need.

In closing I say to the children on the long road to recovery my thoughts are with you and I wish you a speedy and full recovery. To the families and carers of the six children who tragically passed away that day I acknowledge your deep and lasting grief and sorrow. I want you to know that these young lives full of potential taken too soon will not be forgotten. These precious children - Peter Dodt, Chace Harrison, Jalailah Jones, Zane Mellor, Jye Sheehan and Addison Stewart - will also remain in our hearts.


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