If you’re involved in the animal protection movement in Australia, you know Helen Marston.
Maybe not personally. Maybe not by name. But by legacy and by credence, you know Helen.
Helen Marston was active in the animal protection movement for many years, during which time she was Chief Executive Officer of Humane Research Australia for more than 15 years.
Helen campaigned fiercely on the rights of animals used in animal experimentation, challenging their use and abuse as well as promoting more humane and scientifically valid non-animal methods of research.
Her influence was remarkable and wide-ranging; through her campaigning her accomplishments were many, and included:
– establishing the Humane Charities List;
– serving on government committees;
– winning the Lush Cosmetics Public Awareness Award; and
– writing and publishing a children’s book Leo Escapes from the Lab.
In 2011, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Helen did not resile from her views on animal experimentation. Her position on her treatment was congruent with her life’s work. In a published blog about her illness, she wrote:
“What is so disappointing is that researchers continue to base their work on animal models and people continue to pin their hopes on a miracle cure that unfortunately continues to be based on the wrong species… now that I am personally affected by cancer I can confirm that my position on animal experimentation has indeed changed—I am more opposed to animal research than I ever thought possible.”
Helen took pride in fighting the most aggressive form of breast cancer (type 3) for 10 years, during which time she remained wholly committed to her vegan diet.
On January 29, 2021, Helen died in Melbourne at the age of 53.
On May 5, with the permission of Helen’s family, I moved to pass a condolence motion for Helen in the Upper House of NSW Parliament. I asked the House to express its condolences to Helen’s family and friends, and to acknowledge her incredible work fighting for the rights of animals. The motion passed, with multiple MP’s speaking in honour of Helen, including my fellow AJP MP, Emma Hurst, Labor’s Walt Secord, and Liberal MP Scott Farlow.
In the weeks since, I have shared the video footage of the discussion in the Upper House with Helen’s family and friends, and now I would like to share it here with you.
You can watch the video here:
You can also read our tributes here:
Rest in peace, Helen. Thank you for everything you did for the animals.