DEATH OF LOIS MARTHA ROBERTS
The Hon. JANELLE SAFFIN
[6.17 p.m.]: On 22 January 1999 I attended the funeral of Lois Martha Roberts. Lois was a friend, and she was 39 years old. She was the daughter of Muriel Roberts and Pastor Frank Roberts, deceased. Lois was a mother to Charles and Emily, a sister to Philip, Rhoda and Mark, an aunty, a granddaughter, a friend to many and a local identity. At Lois’ funeral we were given a script which said "A Celebration of the life of Lois Martha Roberts". That is how Lois’s funeral was conducted, as a celebration of her life. Lois lived her life as a free spirit.
I have known Lois for approximately 21 or 22 years. She was a young woman when I first met her. She was beautiful, vivacious, glamorous and intelligent. A local hairdresser, she had the world at her feet. Even then she had a free and joyous spirit. Lois came from a family that had contributed enormously to family life. Her father, Pastor Frank Roberts, was an icon in Aboriginal affairs. Known for his passion and commitment to social justice at all levels of public life, national, State and local, he had a wonderful presence and a wonderful voice. Indeed, the whole family contributed to the betterment of community life. It was into this family that Lois was born.
Lois then, as a young woman, tragically suffered severe injuries in a car accident and sustained permanent head injuries. This event changed her life. I always thought about Lois’s life as before and after the accident. Lois was in hospital for a time and then returned home, where she carved out her place in the community. She was known to all honourable members; the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti probably knew Lois as well as I did. She frequently travelled around our area by hitchhiking, often to Nimbin and back. Lois loved Nimbin and its community embraced her.
I often saw Lois hitchhiking and would pick her up. I would go a long way out of my way to make sure that she got to her destination safely. Lois was respected by many and in turn she respected many, including her elders. Her uncle Fletcher talked about this at her funeral. Before Lois’s accident she called me Janelle and for a while after I was still Janelle. When I became active in public life I became Miss Saffin. I used to say to her, "Come on Lois, I am still Janelle. " She would say, "Yes, but you are now Miss Saffin. " She continued to call me Miss Saffin until she died. Everyone knew Lois, she was totally trusting. She had opinions on all manner of things including politics and would commend or chide me as was her wish. She would often say to me, "Miss Saffin, I haven’t seen you in the media lately. It is time to get in there again. " She watched everything that we did.
She was courageous in expressing her views, many of which she shared with me. The last time I saw Lois before she died she had fallen from her pushbike at the roundabout in Lismore. I was driving by in a truck and managed to pick up Lois and her bike, put Lois in the truck, take her home and care for her. We had a nice time that afternoon. Lois was tragically and brutally murdered. She was last seen hitchhiking in Nimbin’s main street, near the police station. Lois would have trusted those who offered her a lift and who ultimately betrayed her. Her murderers are still unknown. As her mother, Muriel, said at the funeral, she wanted
people to think about Lois’s tragic murder with forgiveness. She could find it in her heart to forgive. I will read from the script that was given to us at the funeral:
"Vengeance is mine, I will repay," saith the Lord.
That was the spirit of Lois’s funeral.