Bourke Street Tragedy

Ms RYALL (Ringwood) — I rise to support the condolence motion on behalf of my electorate of Ringwood. In minutes catastrophic and horrific devastation occurred on 20 January. Six lives were extinguished, one person is still fighting for life and many more are still receiving medical treatment. So many were injured, and so many more were scarred. We are a city, a state and a nation in shock and in mourning. It is a day we will never forget.

Those community members who acted immediately, who never for a moment hesitated, showed the true spirit of us as Australians — that spirit of mateship, that spirit of helping others out in need — and I commend them. I commend their actions, their selflessness and the innate goodness that came to the fore at that time. I pray for all those who are affected, those impacted, and for all the members of the public that those physical and psychological wounds will heal over time. Their courage and strength knew no bounds.

As a former health professional, we prepared often for catastrophic events in scenarios that simulated real‑life tragedies on rooftops, in tunnels and in all sorts of environments. In full theatre make‑up the adrenaline kicks in, just as it does in emergency, but nothing can fully prepare you for the reality of catastrophic and horrific circumstances. I recall as a student working at the Alfred hospital at that time when the Hoddle Street massacre occurred. I remember being in the intensive care unit at the time when some of the victims were there. A close friend missed that tragedy by minutes, and one of his work colleagues had bullet holes in the car. But at a major trauma hospital everyone swings into action. You do it, you act and you pull together, but you never forget.

Knowing that, I am so grateful to our police and emergency workers and to the medical and nursing teams in our hospitals that jumped into action and did what they were trained for. But when you train for it, you hope you never have to carry it out, and they did and did it well. As a board member of the Victorian Council of Churches Emergencies Ministry I commend our volunteers, as well as our Red Cross volunteers, who came forward to assist all who grieved and all who were directly impacted by the tragedy.

The support that psychological aid provides is vital in an ongoing capacity to assist all to heal over time. While the pain does not leave, we learn to live with it. We owe it to the victims, their loved ones and all Victorians to get on and work on this immediately — to debate the urgent reforms that need to happen and to fix the broken systems that exist in Victoria. My community expects us to be hard at work today, now, to not waste a minute, to not take the afternoon or anything off and to not do as the government has scheduled, but to urgently fix what is broken. That is our job, and that is why our community has put us here. My thoughts and prayers are with all who are impacted and all who came to their aid, and on behalf of my community I extend our deepest condolences.