Friday, January 7, 2011

Vale - Suzanne Carman

I've been away from work these past few weeks and will be away for a little longer so this blog has been quiet.  However I am moved to write something today to honour the memory of Suzanne Carman, who passed away on 30 December.

Coming away from Suzanne's funeral today, I suspect I was the person at the funeral service who knew Suzanne the least.  Our connections were limited to the several meetings we had together, with Suzanne in her role as Executive Director of the South Australian state government's Office of Disability and Client Services (ODACS).

As a result of these connections the Suzanne Carman that I knew was the public servant who was in charge of disability policy and procurement.  I assessed Suzanne's ODACS contributions through my own world view, without investing sufficiently to know more about Suzanne's history and motivations.

It is indeed a very dangerous thing to make assumptions about people based on limited information, for today I learned so much more about Suzanne's life.

For example, I didn't know Suzanne was from Cairns.  I didn't know that she had a fine musical ear and talent.  I didn't know about her faith.  I didn't know that as a young adult she had deferred her studies to give service to the community.  I didn't know about the remarkable range of public service roles she had undertaken in her career, clearly driven by the desire to make a contribution.  I didn't know she had become a grandmother.

I only wish I had discovered these things while Suzanne was alive.

From the celebrant's words at the service today, it is clear to me that Suzanne wanted to leave a message of love and acceptance.  For me, these values lie at the heart of social inclusion and in advocating for better lives for people with greater vulnerability.   

But what I also think I have learned, or re-learned, today is that the same values need to apply in all such dealings, with those whom we seek to influence and with those who have different histories and perspectives. 

Thank you, Suzanne, and I wish I had taken the time to get to know you better.

Rest well.


  1. Thanks Robbi, this is a nice vale to Suzanne. Unfortunately people are often too self-absorbed to see or recognise the goodness in others until it is too late.

    Suzanne will be sadly missed.

    One of the "old crows" who had the pleasure of working with Suzanne, albeit for much too short a time.

  2. I took would like to thank you for the wonderful note above. I was a friend of Suzanne's from Cairns and had only just established contact with her after 30+ years. She touched the hearts of many of us

    John M

  3. I am glad I found your tribute. I went to high school with Suzanne and she was even then, committed to community service, and had a maturity that set her apart from the rest of us. I had only seen her once since school days, but last year got in touch briefly by email and hoped to get to see her again at some stage. I found out about her death from someone in Cairns (I now live in Brisbane) only the other day. I am so sorry, and saddened, at the loss of this wonderful person

  4. I also went to school in Cairns with Suzanne..imagine my extraordinary delight some years ago when the Suzanne Carman I was to be working with on a national pandemic influenza exercise turned out to be Suzanne from Cairns. I was priveleged to know the highly intelligent, compassionate and capable Suzanne both in her youth and maturity....she shone her entire life.