Corio disability day service born from love

Luke and Adam Zecevic founded MaudCare (an NDIS company) in honour of their mother, Maud Steenbeek, who was bashed to death by her neighbour in January 2020. (AAP Image/James Ross)

By Cassandra Morgan, AAP

Maud Steenbeek lived by the mantra: “Love is the answer, whatever the question.”

It’s a philosophy she instilled in her sons Luke and Adam Zecevic, who let it guide them even after their mother’s death at the hands of her neighbour Xochil Quetzal O’Neill.

Ms Steenbeek was on a Skype call to her brother in January 2020 when she cried out and the call cut off.

Adam later found O’Neill standing over Ms Steenbeek in the front bedroom of her Heidelberg West house, armed with a decorative Samoan paddle he’d picked up inside and used to beat her to death.

The 61-year-old yoga and pilates teacher, who had begun cancer treatment earlier that month, was in the foetal position and had suffered fatal blows to the head and upper back.

She died trying to protect herself.

O’Neill was in a psychosis and was in May 2021 found not guilty of Ms Steenbeek’s murder on grounds of mental impairment.

Her sons have stayed true to her commitment to treating others with compassion, understanding and love, and have forgiven O’Neill who they believe is a victim of gaps in the mental health system.

“I have every right to look at him and be like, ‘He’s a horrible person, I wish death upon him’,” Luke told AAP.

“But looking back, it’s going to affect me in a negative way as well. My mum was a victim, he’s a victim.”

The brothers want the coronial inquest into their mother’s death to result in major reform for Victoria’s mental health, drug and alcohol support systems.

They also want people to reflect on how they treat others, and consider how holding onto hate for people who are hurting themselves only worsens society.

“(O’Neill) didn’t even have a mother, his mother was a heroin addict,” Luke said.

“It’s a horrible, horrible way of life.”

Ms Steenbeek’s sobriety journey helped her find peace and pushed her to embrace a holistic approach to personal wellbeing and healing .

She was 18 years sober when she died.

“(She understood) that we’re all just a lot of people trying to find our way and people who outwardly might be expressing anger are a lot of the time reflecting that outwards because they’re not well inside,” Luke said.

Luke had his own struggle with addiction and has been sober for seven years.

Through that time, he too has dedicated his life to health and wellbeing, while his brother Adam is a longtime support worker.

Ms Steenbeek’s passion for a holistic approach to wellbeing has inspired the brothers to create a disability day service, named Maudcare in their mother’s honour.

Luke and Adam are launching the service in August this year, which will operate out of Ms Steenbeek’s property at Corio.

The program will each day cater to up to eight clients including people with mental disorders such as schizophrenia.

“Moments can destroy you and make you worse or moments can force you to grow,” Luke said.

Last month, a coroner was yet to determine whether a hearing over Ms Steenbeek’s death was needed, or whether he could solve the matter through an investigation.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636