Page 365 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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Adam Dunning and his family moved to Canberra when he was almost two years old. The family lived in Florey for a short period and then moved to Monash, where they live to this day. Adam attended Monash primary and Padua Catholic High before attending Erindale College in Wanniassa.

As a teenager Adam was a member of the air training corps, which is now known as the air force cadets. In 1998 Adam joined the air force, where he held the rank of aircraftsman. He was part of the air force ground defence also known as Aggys,. Adam was the dux of his intake.

Adam was deployed to East Timor and was on one of the first planes on the ground. He remained there until the handover to the UN and remained in the air force until 2001. After coming out of the air force, Adam joined the Australian Protective Service, which is an arm of the Australian Federal Police. He was deployed to the Solomons in mid-October and was due back in mid-January. One of the things Adam did while on deployment in the Solomons was to conduct boxing lessons for the Honiara police.

While in Honiara, Adam received a commendation for his work in defusing a situation where he was alone and confronted by an armed man. The Chief Minister has already spoken about this incident. Adam drew on his experience and non-violent attitude and talked the armed man into handing over his weapon. I am told that this was typical of Adam: he was a person who never set out to harm people. Adam’s father spoke to me of a gentle giant: a man who knew how to look after himself and was certainly no pushover but also a man who did not like violence.

Two of Adam’s passions in life were riding motorcycles and practising the martial arts. He practised aikido and ju ju kan during his childhood and teenage years and later on he taught kickboxing at the Erindale Police and Citizens Youth Club. Adam took this role very seriously and found that teaching kids discipline, self-defence and not violence helped them develop a sense of self-worth. He was particularly concerned that the skills he taught be used only for self-defence.

The death of Adam Dunning was a tragic event. When I first heard the news reports, what first struck me was Mr Dunning’s relatively young age and, later, the links that he and I shared. I attended Padua with Adam and his sister Sarah. Sarah was in my year and Adam a year below. I grew up a suburb away, in Wanniassa. I attended the same PCYC where Adam taught kickboxing. These links brought home to me the reality of this tragic death. Having never lost anyone in my immediate family, it is impossible for me to fully appreciate the effect of such a loss. Having sons of my own, I can only imagine the anguish that losing a child would cause.

The other thing that struck me when I heard of Adam’s death was an overwhelming sense of gratitude for people like Adam, who put their safety at risk for the good of others. I would like to say this to the Dunning family: Adam died doing good; he died helping to restore order to the Solomon Islands after the serious turmoil that that nation has suffered. I hope that this fact can bring some comfort to you in the midst of your great sorrow.

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