MR ENTSCH: I rise today to pay tribute to a much-loved and extremely well-respected person in my community who recently passed.
Romina Fujii was born on Badu Island in the Torres Strait on 12 December 1943 and was the third child of Talipasa and Dulcie Nona.
From a very young age Romina learnt about the value of respect, something she carried with her until the day she passed.
Growing up, Romina always dreamt of being a nurse.
When she turned 17, that dream became a reality.
Gaining her qualifications was a huge learning curve for Romina, one she excelled at and enjoyed immensely.
In the early part of her nursing career, she lived in the nurses’ quarters on Thursday Island, and that is where she met her future husband and love of her life, Russell, who was a maintenance worker at the hospital.
Romina and Russell courted before they married on 8 February 1964 in the Catholic Church on Thursday Island.
Romina and Russell went on to have five children: Kevin, Geraldine, Lara, Yasmine and Shoji.
When Romina’s children went to school she followed suit and obtained a job in education as a liaison officer at the local high school.
In fact, Romina became the first female to be elected president of the P&F of our Lady of the Sacred Heart School.
It was during this time that her interest in politics was piqued.
Romina knew the islanders didn’t have a voice in the national arena when it came to education and she set about changing that.
She worked alongside the late Ted Loban, and together they lobbied the federal government to secure education and Abstudy for year 11 and 12 students on Thursday Island.
Romina is widely credited for being the driving force behind the establishment of Kaziw Meta—a student accommodation facility for outer-island kids—along with the establishment of the Port Kennedy Association community hall and markets and securing the location for the Badu Island state primary school.
The Star of the Sea aged-care facility was another project close to her heart, and she successfully advocated to ensure health professionals and nurses were trained in aged care as she knew it was not the same as ordinary nursing.
Over her lifetime, Romina held many senior positions with organisations such as the Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Rotary, Lena Passi Women’s Shelter and the Torres Strait Aged Care Association, just to name a few.
Romina has also represented the Torres Strait in numerous international conferences in Canada, France, New Zealand and Switzerland and was invited to speak at the United Nations.
I could talk a lot about Romina, her achievements and her contribution to her community for another hour but unfortunately we’re very confined by time.
Romina was a caring, loving, soft-spoken, open-minded and humble person who was always willing to help others. In her own words: ‘We all have different things to give to society if we work as one and put others first and yourself last.’
Romina’s passing is an enormous loss to her family, her friends and her community.
Romina will be survived by her husband, Russell, five children, 17 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
May she rest in peace, a beautiful woman.