Rob and Emma Caskie

May 01, 2019

Let me tell you about Rob and Emma.

How gifted they were.

And the gifts they gave.

I rise today to tell you about two remarkable people who tragically died last year, Rob and Emma. It is a great privilege and an honour to speak about who they were and their legacy. Rob was born in 1965 and grew up in Cootamundra. He was a school captain in both primary and high schools, with fiercely loyal friends. As you will hear, Rob is remembered for many things but his running ability was one of those things that stood out throughout his life and first became obvious in school. He held New South Wales state titles for the 1,500 and 3,000 metres and still holds the under-16s combined high school record for the 1,500 metres. He was offered a place at the AIS twice but turned the opportunities down because running was for his enjoyment.

Following his graduation from Sydney University in 1989 Rob joined the Australian Federal Police. It is understood that he still holds the record time for the 2.4-kilometre run of six minutes and 49 seconds. For much of his career in Canberra he was stationed at Belconnen police station and in the early years could be spotted with his sidekick, Constable Kenny.

During his career he was awarded the National Police Service Medal, the National Medal, the Commissioner's Group Citation for Conspicuous Conduct and the Australian Federal Police Service Medal with a 25-year clasp. The only criticism he received as a police officer was from one of his superintendents who advised him to get a bit of mongrel in him.

You probably have a sense now, Madam Speaker, that Rob excelled at anything he put his mind to. He was a sports fanatic and a valued trivia team member across almost every knowledge field. But two loves came together when he appeared on the televised sports trivia competition Head 2 Head in 2006 and won.

Despite all of Rob's achievements, he is remembered by all as a deeply humble man. This is in addition to being remembered as kind and patient, a loyal and generous friend and a man of integrity and of deep Christian faith. But he is most remembered for being loving and for being so loved. He is deeply missed.

Emma was born in Canberra in 1994. She was naturally gifted at some sports, competing at the ACT state championships for both swimming and high jump, with zero training. It was during school she emerged as a talented artist with a creative gift for visual art, exploring all mediums but being happiest sketching, having the images in her mind realised. Some of her work was selected to be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, again underlining her creative talent.

Emma lived with a mental illness, which became apparent during her later years at school. She was supported by her loving family, who stood by her always, and a large network of loyal friends. The relationships she created and shared were meaningful and deeply felt, particularly with her sister Lauren. In addition to the lasting, treasured impact of her art, Emma is remembered for being kind, warm, wickedly funny, intelligent and compassionate. She too was loving and is so loved.

Rob and Emma are father and daughter and, on their passing, Rob and Emma donated their organs. Of all the contributions we can make, perhaps one of the most, if not the most, generous is donating organs in the rare circumstances where it is possible. For both Rob and Emma, it was possible and for Rob and Emma's family, Jacqui, Joel and Lauren—Jacqui and Lauren who are here today—the decision was easy. In Jacqui's words, Rob and Emma were loving, compassionate and giving people and it also simply made good sense to donate their organs.

Knowing and learning more about Rob and Emma, I get the sense that they would be embarrassed to be acknowledged so publicly but would also want the conversation about organ donation to be a loud one. The reality is that organ donation does not make you miss a loved one any less. It does not take the hurt or the grief away. But it does save the lives of others and, in doing so, it honours the people who were generous and giving in their lives with the legacy of being generous and giving, like the life of Rob Caskie and like the life of Emma Caskie. Rest in peace.