By KATE FITZSIMONS
Did you know that an Aussie tourist dies in Thailand every 3 days? This time last year neither did I and it is a statistic I wish I didn’t have to learn the hard way. Just over a year ago, my family were just like every other hard working and fun-loving family until one life shattering phone call in the early hours of 20th October 2012 turned our entire world upside down when we discovered that my beautiful sister, Nicole Fitzsimons, will never be coming home. Nicole Fitzsimons is a name that you probably haven’t heard of before, but by the end of this article I hope it is a name you never forget.
You only needed to spend two minutes with my sister to know how extraordinarily special she was. Her smile alone could light up a room. At 24 years young, Nicole was not only an inspiring, talented dancer who had performed around the world, but also a devoted footy fan who studied journalism at Uni via correspondence. From her love of footy, Nicole developed a passion for sports journalism which saw her land her dream job on Channel 9’s The Footy Show early last year.
Nicole was on the brink of reaching her full potential before she was tragically killed in an accident in Thailand whilst holidaying with her boyfriend during October 2012. They were turning right into the driveway of the hotel when they were blindsided by a Thai local on a scooter speeding on the wrong side of the road and collided with them from behind at 80km/hr. Nicole took almost the entire impact to her head and in a heartbeat she was stolen from us, forever.
My family has established The Nicole Fitzsimons Foundation to continue Nicole’s legacy of helping others, particularly performers & sportspeople, to fulfil their life aspirations. However, due to the traumatic experience we have been through another important aim of the Foundation is raising awareness of travel safety overseas among young Australian tourists with a mission to bring more of them home safely into the arms of loved ones. In fact, I am so passionate about sharing these messages with the rest of Australia I have walked away from my corporate career to dedicate myself full-time to Nicole’s Foundation by delivering voluntary presentations to senior school students around the Nation.
My passion to educate other Australians on travel safety ignited when I started researching into accidents overseas just after losing Nicole where I discovered that Thailand is officially the deadliest destination accounting for one in every 8 Australian deaths on foreign soil. Similar destinations like Indonesia and Vietnam also place in the top 5 highest recorded deaths of Australians overseas and a major cause of these deaths are accidents. With more than double number of under 25’s travelling overseas than a decade ago and 6,000 Schoolies expected to pour into Bali this year, I pray teachers are beginning to appreciate just how important it is to provide travel safety education to their students before they gain their independence to explore the rest of the world.