Media Release

10 March, 2007
Statement by the Secretary, Mr Michael L'Estrange

Death of Australian Diplomat, Elizabeth O'Neill, OAM

It is with great sadness and very deep regret that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has learned this evening of the confirmation of the deaths of five Australians in the Yogyakarta plane crash last Wednesday.

Four of the Australians whose deaths have been confirmed worked at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

Two of them were Australian Federal Police officers, Mark Scott and Brice Steele.  They were dedicated, skilled and highly respected police officers, and I extend to their families and friends our deepest condolences.

Allison Sudradjat, Ausaid's most senior official in Indonesia and head of Australia's aid program in Indonesia, has also been confirmed as a victim of the plane crash.  Allison was compassionate and dedicated.  She achieved many wonderful outcomes for people in need around the world and particularly in Indonesia and PNG.

All of Allison's many friends in DFAT extend to her husband, her children and all the other members of her family our heartfelt sympathy.

The confirmed Australian deaths in Yogyakarta include one of our DFAT colleagues, Liz O'Neill OAM.

There are so many people in DFAT whose lives were touched by Liz.  She was a colleague who was deeply respected for her professional skills and who was enormously popular because of the person she was: generous, open, warm and full of life.  She gave friendship and she brought joy to many people.  She worked tirelessly for Australia in a number of locations overseas and she helped countless Australians along the way.

Since February 2004, Liz had been the Counsellor for Public Affairs in our Jakarta Embassy.  She helped to meet the many extremely difficult challenges it faced, including those in the aftermath of the Embassy bombing in September 2004 and the Asian tsunami in December that same year.  Liz won the respect, in particular, of Australian and Indonesian journalists for her integrity and professionalism, and for the important work she performed in strengthening Australia/Indonesia relations.

Prior to her posting in Jakarta, Liz was a member of the Emergency Response Team sent to Bali following the October 2002 bombing.  We were all immensely proud when she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to Australians in the tragic aftermath of the bombing.  Liz also served in Bougainville with the Peace Monitoring Group and at the Embassy in Tokyo in 1995 and 1996.  She made critically important contributions in many areas during her work in Canberra between postings.

Liz O'Neill will be remembered by her DFAT colleagues with great and enduring affection - for her drive and energy, for her commitment and achievements, for the warmth of her friendship and for the generosity of her character.

To Liz's husband Wayne, their daughter Lucinda, Liz's parents, her brothers and her sister, all the officers of DFAT extend our deepest sympathy and our strongest support.

We have all lost a wonderful person who gave much and achieved greatly.  We are all the poorer for Liz's passing but we are all better people for having known her.  We will always remember her.

We also mourn the death of a fifth Australian, Morgan Mellish.  He was highly respected for his commitment, his personal qualities and his journalistic skills, and we extend to his family and many friends our deep sympathy.

Michael L'Estrange
Secretary.

Media Inquiries:  DFAT Media Liaison on 02 6261 1555