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Young mother killed by falling tree remembered

Allison Milner led Australia’s largest study of suicide by doctors. Courtesy: Supplied

Century-old inner-Melbourne trees will be re-inspected following the death of a university professor and mother-of-two, who was crushed by an English elm that was planted in 1913.

University of Melbourne Associate Professor Allison Milner’s colleagues are mourning the 36-year-old suicide prevention researcher who was killed in the freak accident at Parkville about 8.30 am yesterday.

Firefighters pulled her from beneath the tree and she was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a critical condition but died soon after.

She is survived by her husband and two sons, aged three and five.

Professor Milner worked as a social epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health.

Colleague Marie Bismark said the young mother would be remembered as a leader in her field.

“My colleague Allison Milner was a brilliant researcher, a generous colleague, and a loving mum. She led Australia’s largest study of suicide by doctors, among many other research projects which made a difference in the world. She will be deeply missed,” she wrote on Twitter.

Professor Helen Dickinson added Professor Milner’s death was a “massive loss”.

“I’m so sorry the world won’t have Allison in it any longer. She was such a force and one of the things I felt positive about for the future,” she wrote.

The elm had been inspected by the City of Melbourne a month earlier but wasn’t found to pose a risk to the public.

Arborists have been ordered to re-inspect the row of trees around the accident site following Prof Milner’s death.

About 800 trees across the council area are removed each year as part of annual inspections, the council says.

The University of Melbourne says Prof Milner will be deeply missed.

“Allison’s tragic death is a great shock and an immense loss to the University community,” the head of the school’s global health department Terry Nolan said.

“Her research spanned the fields of suicide prevention, work, gender and disability. Most importantly she was a wonderful colleague and friend. She was humble, generous, and caring.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is among those who paid tribute to Prof Milner’s work on suicide prevention.

“Thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends,” he tweeted.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn called for an urgent audit of ageing trees on the city’s public land.
The tragedy follows on the heels of wild weather in the state, with Melbourne battered by strong winds and heavy rains.

It is the second such tragedy in four days. A large tree fell on a family’s car at Fernshaw, in the Yarra Ranges, on Friday, killing a woman.