It is my sad and solemn duty to confirm that Fiona Richardson – Member for Northcote, Minister and mother of two – has passed away at the age of 50.
The best people in public life are those who live their values. In fighting for her community, in standing up for the safety of women and children, and in seeking the power of government and all its vast possibilities, Fiona not only lived her values, she demanded the same of us all.
In her political life, she knew no fear and tolerated no prejudice.
Before she had even stepped foot in Parliament, she had busted the party’s sexist back rooms and committees wide open. She made things that much easier and fairer for the next generation of Labor women. And for the one after that.
She was Australia’s first Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence. Under her watch, a dark and silent tragedy was brought into the harsh and unforgiving light of a Royal Commission – and the two thousand pages of that Commission’s final report are her greatest legacy to public life.
I’ll never forget her words last year: “If you actually set out to design a prevention system most likely to fail, you would design the system that we had.”
Victoria has a different system now. Our state will never be the same. Lives have been saved. And I know who to thank.
She was a person of conviction, of character, of extraordinary composure. Those qualities – combined with an intellect and instinct that’s among the sharpest I’ve known – made her someone who can never be replaced. Not in our Government. Not in our movement. Not ever.
I send my sincere condolences to her husband Stephen, her children Marcus and Catherine, to all her family and friends, and to her colleagues in Parliament and across the party. I also send my thoughts to her staff in Northcote and in the Ministerial Office. She was proud of you.
Fiona fought until the very end. In fact, she only relieved herself of her parliamentary responsibilities yesterday.
She did all of this not for herself, but for others. In one of her first speeches as Minister, she said “we can do more, and we must.”
In her memory, we will.
Reviewed 15 September 2020