The husband of Dianne Brimble, whose death aboard a cruise ship 14 years ago led to significant change, has been awarded an order of Australia Medal (OAM).
Queenslander Mark Brimble was recognized for his services to the community through his work promoting safety for cruise line passengers.
Yesterday, in accepting the honour, the real estate consultant maintained the fight for better regulation was still not over.
The recommendations of a senate inquiry into regulation of cruise ships had still to be adopted, he said.
Mr Brimble began his crusade after the shocking death of his former wife under suspicious circumstances on a P&O cruise ship in 2002.
The 42-year-old mother of three from Brisbane, died within 24 hours of embarking on a nine-day cruise with her mother, sister and daughter, apparently of a drug overdose.
She was found to have ingested a deadly combination of alcohol and gamma-hydroxybutyrate, better known as GHB.
An inquest heard harrowing evidence of the circumstances surrounding her death aboard the Pacific Sky.
But it was not held until four years after her death. A police investigation was hampered when a purser allowed four accused men back into the cabin where the incident occurred.
The loss motivated Mr Brimble to fight for change to prevent another family going through “the things that we went through in those years”.
He told the website The New Daily it was an honour to be recognised, but he would “give up the award” to see his work for change become a reality.
“If this award allows me to shine brighter in the areas I am working in then I accept it graciously … I hope I can be worthy of the honour that I have been bestowed,” he said.
Through not-for-profit organisation International Cruise Victims, Mr Brimble, who heads the Australian chapter, has continued his work for change.
The international cruise industry is mainly self-regulated.
“We have got archaic laws going back to the days of Captain Cook that still apply because that was the laws at sea. I think the last person who made a change … was Winston Churchill and that was just because of the Second World War,” said Mr Brimble.
The inquest eventually resulted in criminal charges against three men but the manslaughter trial of one of the men, Mark Wilhelm, who gave her the drug, resulted in a hung jury.
Mr Brimble has campaigned for increased safety and gave evidence in the Senate Committee into cruise ship passenger safety in 2013, which delivered the report, Troubled Waters.
That report made 11 recommendations to enhance safety aboard cruise ships leaving Australian ports. These have yet to be adopted completely.
Mr Brimble is also pressing for alarms that would notify a ship’s crew when a person goes overboard.
Mr Brimble hopes his Australia Day recognition will continue to shine a light on a cause he said needs more attention, with more and more Australians flocking to cruises for holidays.
While Mr Brimble feels the industry still has to change, much has been done.
P&O Cruises, for instance, under the chairmanship of Ann sherry, have affected major educational programs among its staff, particularly in the service of alcohol.
The industry as a whole has halted the rise of “booze cruises”, where passengers were encouraged to drink excessive amounts to gain a return from cheaply priced cabins.
And the rise in popularity of family cruise ships means the industry has been motivated to clamp down hard on poor behavior at sea.