Speakers held back tears as over a thousand people mourned the loss of Hannah Clarke and her three children on Sunday night.
Family, friends and strangers gathered at Brisbane’s Camp Hill, just blocks away from where Hannah’s estranged husband Rowan Baxter ambushed the family and set her car alight, killing Hannah, Laianah, 6, Aaliyah, 4, and Trey, 3.
Her father, Lloyd Clarke, thanked first responders and supporters, saying that recent days had been “the worst week of our lives.”
“We would have felt lost without all your support. I don’t know how we can repay such kindness,” he said.
“We are so proud of what our beautiful daughter Hannah achieved in her life and will never forget the joy our grandchildren brought to our lives every day.”
During the course of their marriage, Baxter forced Hannah to cut off contact with her brother, Nathanial. When she escaped him in December, the siblings reconnected
“You wouldn’t know, just looking at her, what she was going through,” her brother said. “She wouldn’t let you.”
Hannah’s friend Lou Farmer said she had a “strong spirit” and “a lot of courage” for leaving her abusive husband.
“In their short lives Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah, and Trey loved hard and laughed every single day.
“Hannah carried the weight of the world on her shoulders and you never knew it, her strength was only matched by her wicked sense of humour.
“Life will never be the same without you here, you have touched the hearts of all Australians and we pledge your deaths will not be in vain.”
In the days following the tragedy, controversy arose from “offensive” news headlines and an inspector’s statement which many described as “victim-blaming”.
Another friend, Nikki Brookes, addressed this, saying that it distracted from the real issue.
“I don’t want us to get caught up in the blame game — there was no excuse, there could never be an excuse,” she said.
“The blame lives and dies with him.”
Shortly after the detective’s comments last Thursday, Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll apologised for the “victim blaming.” She also delivered a speech at the vigil, noting that Hannah had mentioned wanting to become a police officer before her death.
“Right through to her passing Hannah showed amazing courage and heroism, ensuring she gave emergency services at the scene a detailed statement of the horrific events that unfolded,” she said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington also attended the event.
“In this extraordinarily difficult time they have found the grace and dignity and the profound level of courage to speak out, so that we stand together and put an end to this scourge of domestic and family violence,” Palaszczuk said.
“You must be so proud of the heroic acts your daughter and sister displayed in horrific circumstances.”
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800
Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.Image: AAP / Sarah Marshall