Mrs ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, today I am going to speak about the power of family love. My speech is about Launceston's Lisa King and her family. Lisa did Tasmania very proud last month by representing us in the national final of the Barnados Mother of the Year.
Lisa met Aaron King in 1994 and says her early memory of Aaron is that he was a really cool guy and that they were best friends. Lisa was studying to be a teacher and Aaron worked at Roelf Vos. Aaron was still searching for a job that he felt passionate about.
In 1999, their first son, Jalen, was born and Lisa became a stay-at-home mum. Prior to having Jalen, Lisa taught kindergarten at Youngtown and Port Dalrymple primary schools, and says they were incredibly happy. Aaron was studying full-time and working part-time, and they both adored being parents. After earning a degree in computing at the University of Tasmania, Aaron realised he did not really want to sit in front of a desk, and the search to find his professional calling continued.
The Kings' second son, Noah was born in 2001. Lisa remembers he looked perfect with beautiful olive skin and dark brown eyes. A few days after he was born, Noah was screaming all the time and a medical test showed he suffered from reflux, as Jalen did as a newborn. But Lisa could see Noah was becoming more irritable, he was not sleeping, and he was holding his body in an unusual way. He was referred to paediatrician Dr Bailey, who later revealed that Noah had had a stroke in the second trimester and was missing 70 per cent of his brain.
The Kings' were told their beautiful boy had the most severe brain damage possible. He would be blind and deaf and not respond to them. They were also told that he would live only a few years. Lisa said she tried to be strong, but understandably she found that incredibly hard. However, a comment from a nurse at an incredibly difficult moment totally transformed the couple. The nurse said, 'He is still Noah'. Lisa said, 'That comment changed everything. We just decided we were going to give him the best life possible.'
In 2002 Aaron got a Bachelor of Teaching and did his internship at Kings Meadows High School, which would later lead to paid work teaching computing and maths as well as coaching footy. 'Kingy' would become a dearly loved member of the school community.
The Kings' third son, Harri, was born in 2004. At this time Noah was tube-fed and experiencing hundreds of seizures a day. He was given eight different medications, three times a day. Lisa said having Noah made them stronger as a couple and having Harri brought the joy back into their lives. Noah's best years were between the ages of four and seven when he was alert, happy and healthy. As he got older though, he became tired and suffered from pneumonia and scoliosis. In 2008 the family was completed with the birth of a fourth son, Kobe, and Lisa says he was gorgeous.
On Grand Final Day in 2011, Noah woke up breathing fast and looking puffy in appearance. They took him into Accident and Emergency at the Launceston General Hospital. The doctors' thoughts were that he may not pull through. Noah was then taken to Hobart as his heart was struggling. In the week that followed, Lisa recalls that his condition was up and down and doctors were still concerned. It was at this point that Lisa and Aaron decided to take Noah off his breathing machine as they felt their little boy had had enough. Lisa says they struggled with their own grief and that of their other sons and the nurses were amazing in supporting them. She says Noah's passing on 8 October 2011 was very peaceful.
The King family decided to have week's holiday at St Helens in January 2012 after the tragedy of their beloved Noah's passing only a few months earlier. They were keen to spend time together as a family. Lisa said Aaron was so happy to have this special time with family. During this trip Aaron said to Lisa , 'I am everything because of you,' and Lisa said it was the first time after the grief of losing their beautiful little boy Noah that she felt they might be okay as a family going forward.
Sadly, on Australia Day 2012, Aaron would suddenly have a heart attack and pass away. It has been a tough road for the family since Aaron's and Noah's deaths. Lisa says, 'You just have to keep going but that doesn't mean that it is ever easy.' Lisa says says she tries hard to teach her boys that it is the choices you make every day that get you through. She adds that it is her beautiful boys who give her strength, revealing that they still have a good cry once a week and talk about Noah and Aaron every day.
Lisa says it feels strange to get the recognition that she has through the Barnardos Mother of the Year competition, adding 'I do it because I am their mum'. She says she is incredibly proud of how far her boys have come.
In addition to guiding her sons into adulthood, Lisa is teaching English as an additional language to refugees at Punchbowl Primary School.
Mr President, the King family is an inspiring example of family love at its finest.