Condolences: Helen Davis

I rise to pay my respects to and honour the life of a wonderful woman, Helen Davis, who passed away before her time on 19 March 2012. Helen was truly a trailblazer in all aspects of her life, as an activist who stood up for the rights and dignity of working people and as a progressive and effective political advocate. In 1970 Helen joined what is now known as the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. She worked part time for her union, and in 1981 she became the first female organiser, forging a trail for other women in the union movement. Helen was an organiser for the union for 18 years and gave outstanding service to the community of Preston as a councillor. In fact Helen served two terms as mayor of the then City of Preston.

Helen’s partner, John Speight, who is another legend of the labour movement, her sons Terry, Garry, Arthur and Mark, and her stepdaughters Tiffany and Shara, for whom Helen had a deep, abiding and adoring love, will no doubt all sorely miss her. As a young person involved in the labour movement, Helen was always extraordinarily warm and generous to me. She offered leadership, guidance and kindness as she taught me the importance of standing up for the dignity of all working people — men, women, their families and children. She was quite simply one of the sweetest people I have ever met; she was generous with her time, loving and loyal. The world is certainly a less generous place for her passing. I pay my deepest and most heartfelt respects to John and all of Helen’s family.