By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Shocked friends and colleagues have hailed former City of Casey mayor Amanda Stapledon for her “incredible” and “tireless” community work.
The 58-year-old former councillor – who had been rocked by an IBAC inquiry into Casey councillors – was found dead in a car in Stringybark Drive about 12.30pm on Tuesday 18 January.
Her death is not being treated as suspicious, Victoria Police stated.
Ms Stapledon was widely admired as a strong, unstinting community voice, especially for disability and carer issues.
Many also paid tribute to her as a devoted sole carer for her family over decades.
She leaves behind a frail father who she visited daily in aged care and Pete – her adult son who has multiple disabilities.
Blairlogie chief executive Carolyn Carr said Ms Stapledon was “one of the most incredible community leaders I’ve ever met”.
Her staff reacted with “gasps” and “broke down” at the tragic news.
“She’s been an incredible support for not only our organisation but for people with disabilities in general. And more than that, for carers with people with disabilities.
“She worked tirelessly to raise awareness about how carers and people with disabilities have to live with such a lack of access to services.
“She did all that while being the mum to Pete and Pete was her world. She always put him first and I don’t know how she did it all.”
Ms Stapledon fought for proper support for carers so they could be part of the workforce, Ms Carr said.
“She’s been fighting for that since Pete was a baby. He’s now 28, and she’s been carrying that banner for such a long time.
“The sad thing is, we’re not going to have another voice like Amanda. She’ll be hugely missed by the community.”
Ms Stapledon’s passion for disability support preceded her council terms between 2008-’20, including two stints as mayor.
She co-founded Casey Kidz Club – an after-school care program for disabled teenagers – and highlighted the lack of funding support.
Among her major legacies were two 75-kilometre Mayors Walks for Disability – in which she spread the word on service gaps for people with disabilities and their carers.
The initial feat led to her being crowned the Star News Person of the Year 2013.
Ms Stapledon was also a past president of Disability Capability and had held positions on the Blairlogie Living and Learning Board, the Casey Cardinia and ACE (Aiding Casey Education) foundations and Merinda Park Learning and Community Centre.
She was patron of the Cranbourne Football Club All Abilities Team and the YMCA Open Doors Program.
For many years, she hosted Women of Today on Casey Radio 97.7FM and penned a regular column for Star News Group.
She made two unsuccessful tilts at state politics – as an independent in 2010 and a Liberal candidate in 2014.
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