Powerful story of how a ‘lady in pink’ vowed to save her drought-stricken community after her partner tragically took his own life
- Kathy Duff, 57, has vowed for her partner’s death in 2016 not to be for nothing
- Fellow councillor Jamie Mackenzie took his own life four years after they met
- Cr Duff has now committed her life to restoring her rural town in his memory
- The deputy mayor has also dedicated time to preventing suicide in rural areas
- Cr Duff is famous in Proston west of the Sunshine Coast for her love of pink
- She and her late partner often wore matching colours when attending events
A rural farmer made an inspiring journey to become her drought-ravaged community’s ‘lady in pink’ after her partner took his own life.
Grazer and rural Queensland deputy mayor Kathy Duff, 57, lost her partner Jamie Mackenzie to suicide in 2016, but vowed not to let his death be for nothing.
Ms Duff and her late partner Mr Mackenzie, who was also a member of a neighbouring council, were often seen together at public events wearing the colour pink.
The much-loved country girl and councillor from near Proston, 215km north-west of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, had an affinity with pink clothing since her childhood.
Rural farmer and deputy mayor Kathy Duff (right) made an inspiring journey to become her drought-ravaged community’s ‘lady in pink’ after her partner Jamie Mackenzie (left) took his own life
The deputy mayor (pictured on horseback) lost her partner in 2016 but she vowed not to let his death be for nothing
The much-loved country girl and councillor (right) from near Proston, 215km north-west of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, had an affinity with pink clothing since her childhood
Growing up on her father’s farm, she started wearing the colour to show her feminine side while campgrafting – a rural mostly-male sport involving herding cattle on horseback.
‘I used to wear a pink T-shirt and it became my thing,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Her love for pink then transcended her youth into her political career.
During her 15 years of service for South Burnett Regional Council and the Shire of Wondai, other councillors would write notes for her on pink paper and her campaign flyers would bear the pink colouring which has become her hallmark.
At one event where they were pictured together, Cr Mackenzie wore a pink tie to exactly match the shade Ms Duff had chosen for her own attire.
Growing up on her father’s farm, Cr Duff (right) started wearing the colour to show her feminine side while campgrafting – a rural mostly-male sport involving herding cattle on horseback – and the practice has stuck since then
But three years ago, tragedy hit when Cr Mackenzie took his own life.
‘No-one saw it coming,’ Cr Duff said. ‘There were a lot of underlying issues and looking back on them there were things he said that were signs, but at the time I didn’t pick up on them.’
Those signs included not caring he wasn’t wearing gloves when he put chemical on cattle or talking about having everything ironed neatly for when he died, she said.
The 57-year-old (right) was elected deputy mayor in 2016 and has tirelessly worked to regenerate her region in her partner’s memory
Since his death, which comes amid a spate of rural suicides in the South Burnett region, Cr Duff has been an ardent campaigner on mental health issues.
The 57-year-old was elected deputy mayor in 2016 and has tirelessly worked to get more mental health assistance to her region and supported programs relating to rural suicide.
After receiving a ten per cent share of his inheritance, Cr Duff also put her financial efforts into regenerating Proston’s tired town centre in her partner’s memory.
Cr Duff donated to a community group which then bought seven shops in the tiny town of fewer than 400 people – six of which were previously boarded up.
She said the drought had severely affected the town, which once had its own butter factory and was a hub for the state’s dairy industry.
‘The total purchase cost $60,000 including legal fees as you can’t get grants for capital infrastructure,’ she said.
With the region’s roads deteriorating and mobile signal patchy, she said reviving Proston’s economy was vital to keeping the regional town alive.
‘I’m 100 per cent committed to improving infrastructure and services here – if you build it people will come.’
After receiving a ten per cent share of his inheritance, Cr Duff (pictured) also put her financial efforts into regenerating Proston’s tired town centre in her partner’s memory