The northwest Tasmanian community of Devonport are once again united in grief as the public gathers together to mark the one-year anniversary of the fatal jumping castle incident at Hillcrest Primary School.
The public ceremony was held on Thursday evening, December 15, to remember Zane Mellor, Peter Dodt, Addison Stewart, Jye Sheehan, Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones and Chace Harrison, the six children who died when a gust of wind lifted the inflated jumping castle they were inside of during their “Big Day In,” an end-of-year school celebration.
Big Day In was advertised as a “day to celebrate a successful year and enjoy some fun activities” including a jumping castle, zorb balls, a slippery slide and a wet play zone.
Families, friends, first responders and politicians were among those who paid their respects at the city’s Market Square. The heartbreaking phrase “forever in our hearts” appeared on a big screen while a heart sculpture was placed in the Square where many left flowers and messages of support.
“The 16th of December, 2021 was the most tragic day,” Premier Jeremy Rockliff said.
“The loss of such cherished … children sent shockwaves through the Devonport community, Tasmania and indeed our entire nation.
“Over the past 12 months, Tasmanians have come together as one, wrapped their arms around everyone.
“We acknowledge though, that no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we will continue to try, we will never be able to truly walk in the shoes of those who have lost so much.
“We will never forget your precious children and we will always walk alongside you in your grief.”
Rockliff then went on to read a message from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“This is the hardest of anniversaries. Your community is in the hearts and minds of Australia as we remember six beautiful children,” he said.
“It is the end of a hard year. Grief may one day soften but it does not fade.”
Devonport Mayor Alison Jarman’s statement followed, saying that the events of December 16 2021 would be “etched into our memory forever”.
“(It is) the day our heart broke. It rocked our close-knit community,” she said.
Per SBS News, Hillcrest Primary School also held a private commemoration on Friday, December 16 and is currently planning on creating a permanent memorial on the grounds of the school.
The school has asked the public to honour their wish for privacy during the anniversary.