Speech: Chief Superintendent Joanne Shanahan and Tania McNeill

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (14:07): I rise to join the statement of condolence at the passing of Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Shanahan and Tania McNeill.

Tragically, this ANZAC Day just past, Joanne's life was suddenly taken in a horrific crash at the intersection of Cross and Fullarton roads. Another woman, Tania McNeill, a mother aged 53, was also a victim of this accident and leaves behind grieving loved ones, including her husband, Cary, son, Bailey, parents and a sister. Detective Chief Superintendent Jo Shanahan leaves behind her husband, Peter, a former detective and now SA Police General Counsel, and two children, Nicholas and Eleni.

The shock felt by all is immense. For those members of her family, her husband and children, her friends and many colleagues at SAPOL, the pain must be overwhelming. The life of a woman who served her community with distinction as a proud member of the South Australian police was taken all too soon. A wonderful woman, wife, mother, friend and colleague, tributes have been flowing and flowers now lie at the site of the awful accident.

At times like these it is important to remember the things that matter, such as family. Joanne was the daughter of Greek immigrants. Her family was reportedly as proud as punch when she was accepted into the police force. The Greek Herald recently ran a story on Greek-Australian essential workers who are helping the country amid the COVID-19 crisis. In the article, Joanne urged people to follow the official directions and guidelines of the government for the good of the wider community. When asked how she copes with a stressful situation, she said:

The secret to coping in stressful and busy situations is to surround yourself with good people. I have a wonderful dedicated team around me and we all look out for each other. In tough times we all have a responsibility to be even more considerate of those around us and make sure they are supported.

I also have a wonderful Greek family to supply love, vegetables and eggs, all from the garden. We also share toilet paper when the need arises!

It is clear Jo had a great sense of humour. Jo touched the lives of so many in so many ways. Not too long ago, I stood alongside Jo when she was acting assistant commissioner and we pleaded with drivers to be safe on our roads. It is devastating that just a few months later she and Tania would become the victims of exactly the kind of dangerous behaviour that Jo was trying so hard to change. I would strongly urge again today that this message be heeded. Life is too precious.

Jo was a role model and a mentor to those she worked with at SAPOL. Joanne had a distinguished career, joining SAPOL in 1981. During nearly 40 years of her career, her work spanned multiple areas of policing, including patrols, the Sexual Assault Unit, the Criminal Investigation Branch, the crime training section, the Licensing Enforcement Branch, and Internal Investigations. In 2014, she became the inaugural officer in charge of the Family and Domestic Violence Branch. She was promoted to Chief Superintendent in 2017. Joanne was also just the third woman in the state's history to be appointed to that position.

Last night, in her memory, blue lights illuminated a number of venues across Adelaide, including the Entertainment Centre, Adelaide Oval, the Convention Centre, Town Hall and here at Parliament House. Saturday's crash came just days after four Victorian police officers were killed because of reckless driving. It is with the deepest sadness that we now farewell one of our own. As police minister, I would like to pay my respects and pass on my condolences to police commissioner Grant Stevens and the entire SAPOL family. May Jo's light shine on; may she rest in peace.

Authorised by Corey Wingard MP, Member for Gibson. Level 2, 1 Milham Street Oaklands Park SA 5046. ©Copyright / Legal / Login