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Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Page: 372


Senator RUSTON (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (19:44): It is with a sense of sadness, a sense of reflection, a sense of humility, a sense of honour that I rise tonight to speak about a very dear friend of mine who unfortunately passed away from ovarian cancer last week. Whilst it is a terribly sad thing to lose somebody in any way, shape or form, the legacy that has been left by the person who we are talking about is probably one of the greatest things that we can celebrate, and it was for that reason that last Wednesday I joined with 700 other people in Renmark to say farewell to Carol Bristow.

Carol came to our community in the Riverland in 1990 as the police prosecutor. But Carol was not any old police officer. We have this image of police waiting on the corner to see if you are going to speed or if you are not going to put on your indicator when you go around the corner. She was not one of those people. Carol's view of policing was that the best possible way to have the best possible community was to get the community onside in your policing activities, and that is exactly what she did. In fact, she said: 'We can't do policing on our own. We must be part of the community.' And the one thing that you can be absolutely assured of is that Carol was an intrinsic part of the Riverland community for the 25 years that she was amongst us.

Carol was not just a police officer, though. She was a person who cared about the youth in the community. She cared about everything that happened in our community. She was involved in things like setting up the blue light disco for the young kids. She was involved in Landcare programs. She just had this overwhelming sense of responsibility to her community, so much so that in 2011 she received the award for Police Officer of the Year for South Australia for her services to our community. I think the fact that so many people turned up to say farewell to Carol last Wednesday is probably an extraordinary reflection of the way the community appreciated everything that she had done.

Probably the most amazing thing about Carol was not how she conducted her life when she was living the normal life that the rest of us take for granted, without illness hanging over her head. It was when she found out that she had an illness—an illness that was going to claim her life in a very short space of time. It was the enthusiasm and vigour with which she approached the final few months of her life that probably set Carol apart from many of the people that we will come to know in our lives. The first thing that she did was try to work out what she could do to make sure that she raised awareness of the cancer that she had—ovarian cancer—and I suppose it is somewhat timely that we are standing here today in Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month talking about the contribution that she made.

She organised high teas at our Renmark Hotel. These high teas, I think, for evermore will be one of those things that the women of our community will rally around to raise money because it will remind them of turning up and seeing Carol sitting there in her bright coloured dress with her bright coloured turban. She was not afraid to confront what was coming down at her at a rate of knots and she had decided that the best thing that she could do was to use it to raise awareness and to help others in the community face some of the tough things that come past in life.

The final thing that she decided to do was set up a wig library. I can remember talking to her about this about 12 months ago and she said: 'The funny thing was when I found out that I had to have chemo I thought I'm not going to wear a wig, I'm just going to wear a turban.' But when she eventually put on a wig she said she felt complete again. So the first thing she did after that—the next day—was to say, 'I'm going to set up a wig library for those women who aren't able to afford to go out and spend the hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a wig, so that they can go in there and for just $5 they can rent a wig.' When they have finished with it, whatever the outcome may be, whether they get better or whether they end up the same way that our darling Carol did, the wig goes back to the library for somebody in the future to use.

To her family—her lovely husband, Michael, or, as we all know him, Mick, and to her two wonderful children, Matilda and McKenzie, or Tillie and Macca as they are known—I think the thing that they can take away from having had the wife and mother that they did is that she was an inspiration to our community, she was an inspiration to our state, she was an inspiration to the police force and she will be an inspiration for our community into the future. Even though Carol may not be with us any longer in the physical presence, Carol will remain with us for the rest of our lives.