Never Forgotten – James

I met Phoebe when I was 14 years-of-age. I still remember the first time I met her at a local cafe in Kew with a group of friends. The memory is still so vivid, like no other. The ora and beauty Phoebe had would light up a room. Sometimes I think this worked against her; she was so beautiful, and you could tell she didn’t want to be in the spotlight – she saw the greater things in life.

Still in the younger years, we met regularly on Bridge Road for a cups of coffee or I’d go back to her house and sit in the cubby house or watch The Simpsons in the front room. We chatted about anything under the sun. I must also say, I was a huge fan of her Mother’s cooking and could never let one of those dinners go a stray! I remember on her 17th or 16th birthday (I cant remember the year), she had guests over to the house. Towards the end of the night we were lying out on the veranda with two stubby cans of VB and just looked at the stars. There was so much peach surrounding us. We lost contact again and rekindled in later years – nothing had ever changed.

The warmth that surrounded Phoebe brought peace to many, she had a light in her that burned brightly – you never felt judged, you could always open your heart and speak whatever was on your mind. Phoebe was an old soul who had knowledge beyond her years. A true leader that inspired so many along the way, and wow, what a fighter. I used to confine in her with all my deepest worries and concerns and her advice was the only I advice that I’d ever take. You just knew she was always right. She gave me and others so much confidence and brought happiness to the lives of many.

We stayed in contact throughout the years (mostly by me begging friends that knew her or met her for her new number!) – I think it was around 2008 when one of my close friends worked at a pub in Lorne and contacted me that one day to tell me that he met the most amazing girl he’d ever seen. He hardly gave a description, and I immediately asked if her name was Phoebe, and it certainly was – the alluring and mysterious Ms. Phoebe could never be mistaken!

Although she was loved by so many, she could never be yours to keep, you could only have Phoebe for a moment and then she’d be gone, without a trace. With anyone else you would lose trust, but you knew with Phoebe that no matter what she was doing, she still thought of you the same way.

My last conversation with Phoebe was in September before she passed away; we were planning to meet up and I still remember my last words to her; “Your messages always make me smile, you have always had such a kind heart, and your mumma too if she remembers me.” In someway I am glad that she knew just a little bit as to how much she meant to me, but I do believe in some way she did know just how much.

When I heard about Phoebe’s passing, I could never let any answers go unanswered. Nothing made sense, I knew from my instincts in recent months before her death her depression was bad, but Phoebe was NEVER the type to give up. No matter how many pieces of information was found around her death – I just knew something wasn’t right from the bottom of my gut. For justice and for peace, I was so relieved that the inquest went through. My thoughts and prayers are with the Handsjuk’s every day.

Phoebe, you will never be forgotten. I think about you everyday, and you continue to inspire me in any situation, I try my hardest to think what you’d do. You taught me so much, and I thank you. I wish you were here.


Buddy – Elia Barresi

Hello Thomas. You don’t know me, I don’t think we have ever met but I went to Sophia Mundie myself for many years- phoebe was actually my “buddy” on my first day of year 1 at the school. I remember her walking up to greet me with a rose. I remember saying that I was really scared to start school and she told me that I had nothing to be afraid of; that I had amazing things to look forward to and that it’s ok to be a little scared sometimes. She actually took my hand and walked me upstairs and right to my desk and said she wouldn’t leave until she saw me smile… She was absolutely beautiful. I was saddened to hear of her passing…. I just thought you would like to hear of my lovely memory of her.

Kindest wishes.

– Elia Barresi

Soul Sisters- Sarah Howett

Phoebe was the girl who understood anything you were saying, no matter what it was, she always just ‘got it’.

There were nights we would dance up a storm all night on the dance floor & she would make me laugh hysterically with her ‘left of centre’ humour.

She was the kind of friend who would confide in you as you could with her because to me, Phoebe felt like my younger sister. In my heart, she always will be.

– Sarah Howett



Tiger Girl – Elle Carvill

Phoebe was effortlessly beautiful, she was extremely loyal, trustworthy and a good friend to have on your side and she expected the same from you. She authentically cared about you.

Phoebe was one person who I could honestly say that I have never heard her speak badly or gossip about anyone. She was past her years as far as her maturity and she had a raw understanding of life from the very beginning which enabled her to connect with a myriad of people on different levels. Phoebe never judged you and was always selfless in her time to make sure that you were ok.

Time with Phoebe was always special. She was wild, engaging, witty, creative and intelligent . Phoebe was the girl that when she walked into a room everybody noticed her. It wasn’t that she ever went out of her way to seek attention, it was just that she had this amazing presence about her that you could not ignore. Once you met Phoebe, you never forgot her.

I accepted early into our friendship that Phoebe was always going to be my friend, but you could not tell her what to do. She was always going to float in and out of your life and do what she wanted – which she did. At some stages Phoebe and I created turbulence for both our families (as above, she didn’t liked to be told what to do and neither did I), but I know and witnessed her love and deep connection she had with her family and vice versa. Phoebe ran away often, but I know that the first place she would go if she was in trouble is home to them.

I remember spending lots of time at Phoebe’s home in Richmond. There was always an aroma of candles and good food cooking in the oven (which I often took advantage of when staying over). The Handsjuk’s are a warm inviting family; they acknowledge your presence with embracing hugs, they are graceful and always well spoken. Phoebe was the same.  Phoebe loved her brothers, we often spent time watching cartoons with them in the front room. She never told them to get out of the room, they were always included in everything that we did – which was fine with me also.

Phoebe was/is the most determined, strong willed and inspiring human being i have ever met. Whatever challenge she set out for herself, she achieved it.. There was never a boring moment with Phoebs. She had boundless amounts of energy, she was always in good spirits and had an appreciation for life and nature that was infectious.

Phoebe was also an artist, she often wrote little poems and cryptic extracts on pieces of paper (both dark and light) or in her journals. I remember for my 16th Birthday she got a photo of a rose that she had taken on her camera and stuck it on a nice yellow card and wrote my birthday message on the back in gold pen. She was thoughtful and reflective and is sorely missed.

When I found out about Phoebe’s passing and at the time it was believed to be an undeniable  suicide, the first thought in my mind was that she has jumped from her balcony, she hated being caged in and I would have thought that would have been her split decision way to break free. Phoebe battled with depression for as long as I knew her but she was so strong-willed (with everything, not just her depression) and she was one to NEVER give up.

I support Phoebe’s family and friends to get all the unanswered questions answered surrounding her passing. Phoebe was one of earth’s angels and heaven is very blessed to have her because she is so loved and missed here on earth.

– Elle Carvill