Tragic backpacker death leads to stricter tag-alongs
THE tragic death of a 22-year-old British backpacker during a tag-along tour on Fraser Island last year has led to sweeping changes to improve safety for visitors.
Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef Steven Miles said there had been a review of the safety of tag-along tours after the death of Jade Fox, who was killed when the four-wheel drive she was in as part of a tag-along tour of the island overturned.
"This was a tragic accident that we hope will never happen again," Dr Miles said.
Dr Miles said new legislation would mean all drivers in tag-along tour vehicles had to be aged 21 or over, drivers would have to pass a safety assessment before getting behind the wheel, and tour guides would undergo a performance review with their employer at least four times a year.
Jade's heartbroken mother and father, Chris and Melanie, started a petition fighting for changes in the way tag-along tours were managed after her death last October.
Jade's father had the grim task of coming to Australia to take his daughter's body home.
During his stay in Australia he visited Fraser Island and witnessed a car full of young people hanging out of windows and "messing around", Melanie wrote in an email to the Chronicle.
The police pulled the car over and fined those inside, but the incident hammered home to Jade's family how reckless some people could be on the island.
Dr Miles said tag-along tour operators had shown a "real willingness" to review their operations and put into place procedures that focus on keeping visitors safe.
"The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service will meet with tour operators to ensure they fully understand the contents of the new agreements," Dr Miles said.