Korumburra and Leongatha Losses

Members Statement

Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (12:58): I rise today to grieve on behalf of my beautiful community of South Gippsland, most notably the towns of Korumburra and Leongatha. The last few weeks have been a devastating time for many in our community, and I extend my condolences and, I am sure, those of all members to the families and friends of Gail and Don Patterson and Heather Wilkinson. We extend our best wishes to Ian Wilkinson and send our prayers that he may recover from the critical condition that he is now in. The Pattersons and Wilkinsons were and are well known throughout the Korumburra community through their roles as staff and teachers at Korumburra Secondary College, the Baptist church and their community work. As one local told me, ‘They were the sorts of families that rural and regional communities are built upon.’ While we grieve with their loved ones, we should also respect the family’s wishes for privacy and respect. As a former journalist and now the local MP, I am acutely aware of the level of public interest in this story. However, this is our community and these are our people, and I appeal to all Victorians to recognise that this is a sensitive time for our towns. We should also respect process and acknowledge a police investigation is ongoing and that the vast majority of us do not know the full facts of this incident. Speculation and rumours are not helpful to our communities. Korumburra and Leongatha are beautiful towns full of beautiful people in a beautiful region. That will not change, despite this incredibly sad time for many in our community.

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