Maritime Industry Saddened by Passing of Paul Karras

The domestic and international maritime community is in mourning today following the death of the manager and founder of Hunterlink Recovery Services, Paul Karras.

Paul, 63, passed away on Friday afternoon after recently being diagnosed with liver disease.


Paul Karras attended the MUA's Bulk and General conference last year not long after Anthong Attard's passing

Tributes from across the nation and around the world are now pouring in for man greatly admired for his compassion, professionalism and selfless commitment to others. 

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin said he had passed on his deepest sympathies and condolences to Paul's wife, Lorraine, and family. 

"Vale Paul Karras. A man of deep compassion and humility who dedicated his life tirelessly to the assistance and welfare of others. Now at peace,” Crumlin said.

"Paul was the much admired and respected Manager of Hunterlink who was recently diagnosed with a liver disease and although the prognosis was not good, the expectation was that he would be with us for longer.  

"Regrettably, it was more aggressive than predicted and Paul’s life has been tragically cut short." 

Paul Karras with National Secretary Paddy Crumlin and Former ALP Minister Greg Combet on launching the National Helpline

Crumlin said Paul had been ringing him regularly to plan his return to work, notwithstanding the gravity of his medical condition.

Hunterlink Recovery Services was established as a response to the need for support, recovery and welfare within the maritime industry. 

Through the support of union, employers and community, Hunterlink expanded since its inception in 2010 to become a 24-hour provider of services, not just for local seafarers but also international seafarers visiting Australian waters.

Hunterlink Recovery Services won the Seafarers Welfare Award at the Lloyd’s List Australian Shipping & Maritime Industry Awards in 2013 and had been repeatedly praised for its work by the ITF, including when it took a leading role in counselling the seafarers who were caught up in a string of suspicious deaths aboard the infamous 'Murder Ship' the Sage of Sagittarius.

"I have known Paul for many years through his long and dedicated career of helping people with mental illness, disabilities and with addiction issues in the Newcastle region,” Crumlin said.

"He was the logical choice for inaugural Manager when the union, in partnership with the CFMEU (Mining and Energy Division), decided to pilot the establishment of a workers rehabilitation and counselling service, based in Newcastle, in 2010. 

"That program focused on providing counselling, early intervention, housing and other support for many of our and other union members, international seafarers and others seeking a way through enormous difficulties in their lives.  

Paul Karras attending an MUA National Council with his Hunterlink offsider and close friend Gavin Kelso

"Through the network of superannuation funds particularly Maritime Super and the MMPCU, together with some employers through the EAS program, along with the ITF and ITF Seafarers' Trust, many lives have been reclaimed and saved.

"Over the past 4-5 years Paul’s professionalism, his dedication to helping workers and their families and his personal charm have seen Hunterlink grow from a small operation in Newcastle, to a national organisation that has commanded respect across all industry stakeholders, and government, and which is now on the cusp of further international expansion.
"Paul will be sadly missed by not only the union and its officials and members, and others in our industry, but particularly by the thousands of people he and Hunterlink have counselled and assisted.  

"His personal touch will resonate and remain with them and us for many years to come.
"Paul's greatest wish he told me recently was that his and Hunterlink's work continues."

ITF Australia Coordinator Dean Summers said Paul would be remembered by transport workers the world over.

 "Paul will be sadly missed but his legacy for transport workers and in particular seafarers will be realised for a very long time," Mr Summers said.

Paul Karras and the rest of the Hunterlink team were recognised for their contributions to seafarer welfare in the form of a Lloyd's List Daily Commercial News award in 2013

MUA Victorian Branch Assistant Secretary Bob Patchett paid tribute to Paul’s work with workmates following the workplace death of Anthony Attard in Melbourne in mid 2014.

"I am gutted and deeply saddened to hear about the passing of such a great man,” Patchett said

“All of us in Victoria continue to try to live and work as best we can as a result of our loss of highly respected and loved member, Anthony Attard.

“Without Paul's professionalism and his great personal caring nature to all of us I doubt whether we would be where we are today because of what he did for all of us.

“Sincere condolences to his wife and family from all of us in Victoria. We will hold a minute’s silence for him next week.”

MUA National Safety Officer Matt Goodwin said Paul's work at Hunterlink had changed how we deal with workplace tragedy in the maritime industry.

"Paul was one of the first responders when Anthony Attard was killed in May last year," Goodwin said.

"The workers at Toll were shellshocked by what had happened. I was very proud of the role Hunterlink played and Paul in particular."

MUA Southern NSW Branch Secretary Garry Keane also passed on condolences on behalf of the branch.

“This is terrible news, Paul was really one of the good guys,” Keane said.

“We shall do all that we can to ensure that his outstanding work will carry on through our continued support for Hunterlink.”

Queensland Branch Secretary Mick Carr said this was "the sad loss of a great bloke”.

"Paul's commitment to such an important cause was resolute, carried out consistently, professionally and without fuss,” Carr said.
"The world will be a poorer place with his passing." 

Paul Karras was a close friend of the MUA's National Accounts Officer Karyn Pietens. Here they are pictured at last year's National Council dinner.

MUA Western Australian Branch Secretary Chris Cain said it was a very sad day.

“Paul was a good bloke who would go out of his way to help people,” Cain said.

METL chief executive Simon Earle described Paul as a quality person.

"Paul played a massive role in supporting many of our trainees through some serious issues and I know he saved the lives of a few,” Earle said. 

MUA Newcastle Branch Secretary Glen Williams said this was very sad news and that Paul had been taken away too quickly. 

"I developed a very close relationship with Paul over the past few years and will miss him dearly,” Williams said.

"He was a decent human and a quality person." 

In addition to providing any required support to Paul’s family, the MUA is also supporting Hunterlink Program Coordinator Gavin Kelso through this difficult time.

Details for Paul's funeral are as follows:

Friday 10th April - 11am Morisset Cemetery for Burial. 

Then Bonnells Bay Community Hall Church cnr Station and Marconi road Bonnells Bay.  Note that the burial takes place before the service.

Showing 11 condolences

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  • commented 2016-09-29 16:35:22 +1000
    It is with genuine sadness that I come across Paul’s passing. I met Paul in 1996 and only knew him for a short 16 months. Nevertheless, within that time we came to be quite close in the environment we we shared at that time and I came to value Paul as a good friend. He helped myself and others in those difficult times and I remember him as an extraordinarily kind and intelligent man. I well remember the day Paul told me that he was going to go on to help others after his own treatment concluded. It is with great satisfaction that I read now that that is exactly what he did, and in no small way. Knowing Paul as I did and learning of the work he did I can say that Paul was one of those exceptional people that leave the world a better place for they’re having been part of it. I had always hoped I would talk to Paul once again. Sadly that choice has now been removed.

    Paul Rogers
  • commented 2015-04-14 20:59:59 +1000
    I am deeply saddened by the death of my Uncle Paul, he was always there for me, the only person in my life i could reply on, trust and talk to! He was like my father and he treated me like a daughter…he spoilt me rotten…lol but I loved him for the beautiful man he was. My life will never be the same without my beautiful Uncle Paul.
    Piper Bartkus
    Aged 11
  • commented 2015-04-11 11:19:26 +1000
    I loved you like a father Paul and I wish I had told you so.
    I’m gonna miss you so much mate…
    Sketo palyo file mou
  • commented 2015-04-09 15:48:21 +1000
    A gentle man who did great work. Rest in peace Paul
  • commented 2015-04-08 23:01:43 +1000
    I was honoured and privileged to have worked alongside Paul as his PA from 2012 to early this year. Witnessing the tireless efforts of Paul and Gavin Kelso in support of not only our Australian and international seafarers and their families, but the community of Newcastle in general has been inspiring to say the least and I will carry the invaluable experience and compassion learned from them with me into my future. It was hard not to have a soft spot for the old fella. He will me missed greatly. Rest in Peace now PK.
  • commented 2015-04-08 21:37:42 +1000
    Paul’s passing has saddened a coastline. His efforts and legacy will be remembered fondly through the establishment and expansion of Hunterlink, helping so many members that have stumbled on their journey through life. Numerous lives have been nudged back on course through the efforts of Paul and for that he will be fondly remembered and cherished.

    Vale Comrade.

    Paul Garrett
    MUA #4000084
  • commented 2015-04-08 16:50:05 +1000
    Sorry to hear the passing of Paul, my condolences go out to his family in this tuff time, i met Paul for the first time just under a year ago he was a great bloke who helped me and others at toll shipping in our time of need. VALE Comrade.
  • commented 2015-04-08 16:15:59 +1000
    Paul was like a trump card to thousands in troubled times. He will be sadly missed. But his work in community services will go on. Vale comrade. Lots of good memories.

    My sincere condolences to Paul’s wife Loraine, family and many friends.

    Rest in peace old mate.
  • commented 2015-04-08 12:31:39 +1000
    My deep condolences on the sad loss of Paul Karras.

    Having worked closely with Paul and Hunterlink Recovery Services in Newcastle, I know how hard he strived to help those doing it tough in the Mining and Maritime Sectors.

    Paul was a voracious advocate for people in need of support and assistance when experiencing enormous difficulties in their lives.

    He will be missed by the Newcastle community in particular.
    Again, my deepest sympathies and condolences to Paul’s wife, Lorraine, his family, friends and comrades.

    Sharon Claydon MP
    Federal Member for Newcastle
  • commented 2015-04-07 16:18:21 +1000
    Rip Paul
    Great man and sadly missed mate
    Glenn Burns
  • commented 2015-04-07 15:48:26 +1000
    The MUA National Women’s committee are also saddened to hear of Paul’s passing. Paul has helped many of us in our hours of need and has guided the work of the committee with regards to bullying and harassment issues.
    His tireless work for MUA members has helped many and his legacy will continue on through Hunterlink. Paul you were a true gem and you will not be forgotten. Vale Comrade. Smooth seas and a following wind.
    MUA National Women’s Committee