Copy of Sue's Retirement and Tribute
A moment of reflection, to reminisce, on the remarkable Defib For Life campaigner, Sue Buckman. Winner of the 2019 pride of Australia award, Australia Day citizen of the year, Hume; not that she would want people to be reminded of her achievements.
Sue and I started Defib For Life (formerly Defib Your Club For Life) in 2010, drawn together by tragic circumstances, the loss of Sue's 19 yo son Stephen, who had a sudden cardiac arrest at footy training in May 2010. A few months later we started DFL in memory of Stephen.
Our initial goals were pretty simple, to encourage other sporting clubs to implement life saving defibrillators so they didn't have to suffer the same tragedy as Sue and her family and the community of Rupertswood Football and Netball Club in Sunbury.
We created a huge momentum through social media, education, and advocacy. This resulted in significant changes that were necessary to improve the defibrillator industry. Our media campaigns attracted meaningful partnerships that ultimately saw defibrillator ownership in Victorian AFL grow from approx 5% to over 80% within an 18 month period. Lives were now being saved. Even politicians began listening to our simple message and wanted in, which is quite an astonishing achievement in itself. Prior to the 2014 election, the now Health Minister, The Hon Mary-Anne Thomas (side photo) announced a pre election promise to supply 1000 defibrillators if elected, and they did it.
Instead of hearing about further deaths, we started to hear about lives being saved in public places by laypersons willing to have a go, armed now with a more readily available public access defibrillator and some confidence. Everyday people with little to no prior experience about AED's and CPR were now saving lives.
With a little help from ambassadors, our life saving message continued to gain traction and we were suddenly being asked to help non sporting organisations implement defibrillators as well. Schools, workplaces, councils etc, places where people gathered. Sue made some amazing connections with the families of kids with genetic cardiac conditions, and through the Royal Children's Hospital Sue was able to ensure that families who needed a defibrillator to go home with, received access to one, either a loan defibrillator, donation or at cost price. Sue often found sponsors to enable DFL to provide this service.
Sue became the face of DFL. She became the Defib women on TV, the voice answering the thousands of calls and emails. Her passion for the cause was and still is immense, she knew what it meant to families and community. ( Insert; John Aloisi Ambassador)
A positive shift in cardiac arrest survival rates can be easily correlated between the commencement of Defib For Life, an increase in community awareness, and better access to defibrillators. Key messages around early defibrillation were being heard, everyday people regardless of the experience were now beginning to save lives.
Those of you who have dealt with Sue over the years, know how amazing and understanding she is. She has empathy for those who need it most, and has managed everyone with genuineness and regard.
To get to the point; Sue has had her own recent health battles. She is stoic, some would say a rather stubborn women (tongue in cheek), and she has been quietly fighting an acute illness which has seen her in and out of hospital. Sue is intent to overcome this illness, however to do this she needs to rest. She has made the decision that the only way this was possible, is to retire…
I have travelled this path with Sue throughout the 13 years and I think we've we made a pretty good team. We have shed tears, laughed our heads off, and shared the frustrations of dealing with those figures who could have made legislating and mandating defibrillators much easier. It's a no brainer. Legislation will happen eventually. Legislation in South Australia is well advanced. Let's make sure the rest of the States and territory's quickly follow suit.
Sue, thank you so much for your commitment to communities right across Australia. You have made these places that little bit safer through your tireless work. Your immense achievements speak for themselves. Thank you for dedicating the last 13 years to helping others. You will be missed here at DFL, but know that the cause will continue, not just in Stephen's name, but your name too. Now you go and rest and get well. Know you are loved by the many lives you have touched along the way.
With the highest of Respect; Andrew..