Karen Overington (1951-2011)
Politician and passionate supporter of the disadvantaged and the people of Ballarat. Karen Overington was an Australian politician and Australian Labor Party member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 1999 to 2010, representing the electorate of Ballarat West.
Born Karen Marie Brown in Ballarat on the 16th November 1951, she attended St Alipius Primary School and Sacred Heart College, leaving school at 15 to work at the Morley’s clothing factory. After the birth of her two children, Karen left work to be a full-time mum. In 1977, Karen established a Sebastopol playgroup to service 100 families in the local area. While on the playgroup committee and working part-time at Paddles Shoes, she was elected to the Sebastopol Primary School council. Later, she became involved at the Sebastopol Community Centre and served as its chairman for 25 years from 1979. That centre is still running and Karen is a life member.
Karen attributes her interest in politics to the influence of her father, who was in charge of a voting booth at Mount Pleasant Primary School. Karen attended ALP functions with her parents and was handing out ‘how to vote’ cards from the age of 12. In 1979, a Victorian Labor candidate, Frank Sheehan, opened a campaign office in Sebastopol and Karen and her mother were part of a team which ran it on a voluntary basis for three years. She then worked full-time for Frank Sheehan as an electorate officer between 1985 and 1992. Between 1992 and 1999, Karen worked part-time as a welfare worker for Outreach. In 1982, Karen ran for the local council and door-knocked the whole of Sebastopol. She won the seat and remained on council until its amalgamation in 1994. She served as Mayor from 1990-91 and was elected on to the City of Ballarat council in 1996. Karen was elected as a Member for Ballarat West in the Legislative Assemly in Victoria in September, 1999 and re-elected in 2002 and 2006 winning 55.5 percent of the vote.
Karen’s husband, Brian Overington, died in 2009, and she was diagnosed with cancer shortly afterwards, she retired from parliament at the 2010 state election. After a long battle and at the age of 59 Karen died on the 11th August 2011.
“She stood up for her community, lobbying strongly to deliver better education, health and other services that have made a real difference to families in Ballarat West.” The Hon Daniel Andrews, Premier Victoria
Karen is buried at the Ballarat New Cemetery Lawn K Row 25 Grave 14