Like everyone here today, I am heartbroken by the events of the 19th of December. There are no words to describe the pain I feel. In the blink of an eye I lost the single most important person in my life along with my treasured stepfather.
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Alex Soares. I am the son of Del Weston – the incredibly proud son of Del Weston.
Gavin Mooney was my stepfather. I dislike the word stepfather – it betrays the closeness of my relationship with Gavin.
Whilst I know today should be a celebration of two truly remarkable lives, I feel obliged to speak up for my brother Nicolau, the third victim in this tragedy.
I am convinced that mum and Gavin, in light of the circumstances of their deaths, would want Nic’s mental illness to be brought to light, and their long history of engagement with the mental health services to be laid bare. For they would hope that everyone here today, on review of their exhaustive efforts in trying to seek treatment for Nic’s deteriorating mental health, would reach the same conclusions they did – that there are systemic failures within Australian mental health services.
It is not possible for me to outline the tragic set of factors at play in any detail here today. There are however, a few details I feel I must disclose. Nic has suffered from schizophrenia and psychosis for many years now. At least three weeks prior to the deaths, Nic ran out of the medication being used to treat his symptoms of extreme anxiety, delusions and paranoia. Further, we are aware that, in the days immediately prior to their deaths, Mum and Gavin had tried repeatedly to obtain a new script of Nic’s medication.
The tragedy of course, is that Nic, like most schizophrenic sufferers, has never possessed the capacity to see that he is sick. Simply put, off his medication, Nic loses his footing in reality.
For many years mum and Gavin had argued for Nic’s medication to be forcibly administered and monitored. They knew Nic was not able to self-administer his own medication. Why weren’t their warnings heeded? This is but one of many questions I haven’t been able to find an answer to.
Returning to my reflections on the lives of mum and Gavin…
I believe that everyone has a greater purpose in life, that everyone has a calling, that everyone has something special to offer the world. Mum’s calling was most certainly to help people. As a mother, she was the most caring, loving, affectionate and devoted mother any child could ask for.
She was also a source of continual inspiration – the way she brought people together, they way she faced adversity with such strength and grace, the way she always leant a sympathetic ear to those in need, and in the way she was always ready to back up her beliefs with action.
It’s a scary thought and I do not say this lightly, but I am convinced I will never meet a more compassionate, loving and giving person than my mother.
My respect for Gavin is profound. On a professional level he never ceased to astound me – he had so much passion and drive. Coupled with his razor sharp intelligence and charisma, Gavin was a force to be reckoned with. Should you abuse a position of power and privilege, should you prey on the weak and defenceless, Gavin was your foe…
Gavin will live long in my memory as a man of honour and courage. I remember fondly our time together, times spent watching European football at ungodly hours, engaging in political debates even though, mum, Gavin and I were all very much of the same persuasion, and even forming alliances with Gavin to share a friendly joke at mum’s expense.
But it was Gavin’s unwavering moral compass and steadfast commitment to defending what he believed was right and just, that has left an indelible mark on my being.
If I could sit down with Gavin one last time, I would tell him that I would have been proud to have been his son.
Drawn together by their passions for social justice, equity and humanity, the world is a poorer place without you mum and Gavin.
Thank you, Grant, Katherine and Alex for sharing your personal memories.
We will now hear words written by Del’s brother Arthur Sewell – they will be read by his daughter Courtney. Following Courtney we will hear from two friends. The first is John Waddingham who is a very dear friend of Del’s. Then Dennis Eggington has a few words to add – he is an old friend of Gavin’s and indeed became a good friend to both.