Final Statement From The Family of Trevor “Noombah” King
Cassandra Lawton, Steve Nixon McKellar’s maternal Aunt
“To weep is to make less the depth of grief” – Wiliam Shakespeare
Yet weep we do. But the depts of despair does not lessen.
Our world changed the day you were taken from us.
Screaming silence is what we hear…
Excruciating pain felt day in and out. Barely describes our grief.
And now… we know not what to do….
Anguish for your pain, suffering for your loss, tears from the inside.
What if. What if…what if…and if only… Plays over and over in our mind.
Taken so young…your life not even half lived…ohhh… the sadness.
We weep for your dreams and aspirations, that you will never…have the opportunity to experience or achieve.
The purest of thing of which we know you aspired that you would have loved to have had your own child.
Your 27 years was full of love and adventure, you lived in nearly every state and territory of Australia.
Your mother gave you only the best.
As a child you would fly in from other states to spend holidays with your nan, aunts, uncles’ cousins and all the other murridy kids.
You danced on country much more than a time or two.
Your ancestors will know you in the dreamtime.
As they listened to the sound of your voice and the feel of your feet on country.
The ancestors and the land area connected as one.
The spirits are not happy with your passing as the recent tornados have shown.
A young proud, deadly Gunggari murri man who had such a soft soul.
You had struggles in your life, but hid it well, as you did everything with a smile.
And Stevie-lee our hearts hurt, when we think we will never see you or hear your precious laugh again. And we know not what to do.
We pray our ancestors embraced you and your great grandfather Jackson still stands by your side, as you pass into the dreamtime. We love you; we love you, we love you.
Go rest with our family that have already passed and tell them we know it was not yet your time.
In the words of your great great grandmother Granny Emly Jackson
We shall come home.
Saraeva Mitchell, Steve Nixon McKellar’s maternal Aunt
Firstly, I acknowledge the custodians of the land in which we gather and pay my Respects to their Elders, Past Present and Future. Yowalla (Hello) My name is Saraeva Mitchell, and I am Steven’s maternal aunty.
Steven was born in 1993, the same year as three of his first cousins, Jamie (Sandy), Paul (Saraeva), and Dean (David) . He also has a stepbrother Jamie – Mark’s child from a previous relationship – and a half-brother, Ashtyn – Rae and Mark’s child, who is now 18 years old and the boys were incredibly close, enjoying companionship, mischief, and family fun.
Stevie was easy to like, free-spirited, kind and affable, quick with a joke and laugh.
Our memories, and those of his large extended family, are filled with him either living with us, having Christmas and school holidays with us in Dalby and Mitchell. Stevie was brought up in a home built on strong moral and ethical foundations. Rae and Mark are both committed parents, whose parenting styles complement each other. Rae is warm and affectionate by nature, while Mark is the more disciplinarian of the two. Both Mark and Raelene are actively involved in sport and community mentoring and engagement with introduced and included stevens to a wealth of opportunities and experiences. Completing an education was mandatory for Steven.
Steve was empathetic and compassionate, and always willing to listen. Conscious of how blessed he was to have Rae and Mark providing everything he needed as a child, he found it difficult to see others go without, and often put others’ needs before his own.
Like many, Stevie’s struggle with his mental health and addiction began in adolescence. Any time that Stevie required inpatient care, we would visit him for as long as we could, travelling from Mitchell to Brisbane or Toowoomba.
Stevie wanted to work on the oil and gas rigs like many of his uncles and cousins and we supported him to achieve this goal, all promising to help him get employed once he was clean from drugs. On several occasions Stevie tried, the last occasion was three months before he was taken from us.
We are completely shattered that Steven is no longer with us. There is a silence in our family, where Steven used to be. The shock and pain is etched into our faces, souls andw hearts, a void to raw and painful to talk openly about.
We were brought up being told by our parents if it’s not yours don’t take it and if you can’t afford it you can’t have it and never look down on anyone else and always help people where you can.
For us life is fragile, our values for caring for people, and life is sacred, kindness, no violence, compassion for people going through a difficult time, sharing, helping, telling the truth, admitting when you’re wrong, and doing the right thing, even if its difficult do no harm.
It had only been three months since we lost our brother David suddenly and we were still grieving for him.
Losing Steve was too much for my mother Lynette, who was stricken with grief for her son, and her grandson, unable to eat or sleep. I called the hospital to see if they could sedate her – they refused saying “it’s a normal part of grief” and from that point onwards, we made sure that Mum always had company.
The lack of sensitivity afforded to Rae and to me in the hours and days which followed Stevie’s death, exacerbated our feelings of grief, of anger, of outrage at the manner in which we were being treated – as an inconvenience. QPS officers have tried to contain us and our grief from the outset, directing us not to do or say certain things, to avoid certain people, reiterating that “they did not want any trouble”. Well nor did Stevie, his family, and/or community, and the ‘trouble’ which resulted in Stevie’s death, is mostly attributable to the actions of QPS officers in attendance.
On 8 October 2021, I was on my way to Toowoomba to see where Stevie had lost his life, when Rae called and relayed the contents of her conversation with a police officer, who told her to “turn around”, saying they “did not want any trouble in Toowoomba.” Rae responded with words to the effect of “I can’t tell her what to do she won’t listen to me” and she was right. Nothing could stop me from going to the place where Stevie was taken from us. It is our cultural duty to send his spirit back home, for us when someone passes away either alone or in traumatic circumstances it ties their spirit to that place where it happened, we knew his spirit was not at peace, he was not in the night place.
Upon arrival in Toowoomba I went to Stone Street and lay in the spot where Stevie had died. I could feel Stevie’s spirit, and he too was sobbing with me, sorry for the pain that his death has caused us all. I gave him a messages from Rae and Lynette, placed an Aboriginal flag and flowers on the spot, and left a candle with him I made with from munnurra (spirit tree) to calm his spirit until I returned, for a smoking ceremony to send his spirit home. When we got back from Toowoomba, my mother Lynette said she felt his presence he was home, and was relied to know he was back on home country.
The smoking ceremony itself was a cathartic event. I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my heart and soul, when when we saw the smoke heading in the direction of home… Gunggari country. We all cried and hugged each other, grieving for him and sad for Rae who was still in quarantine in Brisbane. When we got back from Toowoomba, my mother Lynette said she felt his presence he was home, and was relieed to know he was back on home country.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously said, I’m not intereted in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master, I want the full menu of rights.
We as First Nations Australians belong on the land, to the land, we are the land. And yet we are routinely treated as though we do not belong, as if we are less worthy, and our lives matter less. They do not. Steve’s life mattered, and First Nations lives matter generally.
The kind of violence leading to Stevie’s death is is deeply entrenched in Australian history, culture and institutions and calls to mind a report written by my mother in the early 1990s, entitled “We don’t want your pity we just want our rights”. The sentiment expressed is as true today as it was 33 years ago. So, I say it again, for Stevie and for all the other First Nation’s families who have suffered loss, trauma, pain and unimaginable grief, “we do not want your pity, we just want our rights.”
Best policy and practice are ineffectual in countering systemic and institutional racism. As I read online this morning, and I quote the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Murray Gleeson, “The police are not given the power to arrest suspected offenders, for the purpose of enabling the police to punish such people, and the exercise of the power of arrest for such a purpose, would be a serious abuse of power.”
It’s high more was done to protect non-indigenous and indigenous lives equally.
Sharon Nixon, Steve Nixon McKellar’s maternal Aunt
I have been broken by Steve’s passing as have my children and grandchildren. Stevie was universally loved by my kids and grandkids – they saw him as the ‘funny uncle’ who made up rap songs about their Dads’.
I always had a niggling fear that Steve would be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was a well-founded fear. I believe that Steve would have gone quietly with the police, if given the chance. He always had done so in the past.
I am haunted by the knowledge that Steven died in such a cruel and violent manner, and upon hearing of his passing, I was absolutely shattered and felt like somebody ripped my heart out.
Though my heart is broken, I am filled with rage.
Police officers, like us, are bound by the law. They take an oath, “with honour we serve”. Indigenous families like ours do not believe that they serve us in the same way as they serve others in the Australian community. Reconciliation depends upon more than just empty words and platitudes. As Chief Justice Murray Gleeson said, “The police must obey the ordinary law of the land and should, be punished for transgressions. Maintenance of these standards, requires adequate procedures for internal police investigations and the public requires assurance as to the efficacy of such procedures.”
The Nixon family, as proud First Nations people, are determined to make sure that Steve’s life matters as much now as ever.
“Always Was, Always Will Be Aboriginal Land.”
Dylan Nixon Conlon, Steve Nixon McKellar’s first cousin
I, Dylan Nixon Conlon, am Steven Nixon McKellar’s first cousin – we grew up like brothers he is my big brother we were close he became a member of our family he became our children’s uncle the favourite funny one he loved my nieces and nephews especially when my younger brother Jordan introduced him to the love of their life Nashaya she is Jordan’s daughter born the 16th August, 2019.
Nashaya ended up in the care of my mum and Steven immediately was there telling mum what to do and how to do things with her. He just adored her that’s a side of him I never seen in him he would babysit her in her early years while she was a infant change her nappies and made her bottles and as she grew so did the love and bond between them something I never seen he would’ve been the deadliest dad he would’ve been proud of my son whom I named Steven after him.
Steven has been arrested before and he has not resisted arrest.
I am suffering depression due to the loss of my cousin/brother’s death.
I’m devastated that my son will never meet my brother Steven.
Because of what happened to Steve, I fear that it could happen to me too. But to my brother boy Steven hope our ancestors are taking care of you in the dreamtime. Rest in peace.