Earlier in the episode, big wave surfer Flick had opened up about her mother’s battle with early onset dementia. She fought back tears as she revealed her mum was living in care and was now “non-verbal.”
Later on, there was confusion at camp as Flick was ushered away by producers. She was seen reacting emotionally as she sat by herself, speaking on a phone.
“Receiving this kind of news when you’re not with your family is unimaginable,” she said.
“There’s part of me that wants to teleport back home – but then the other part of me knows my mum would want me to be here. She’s the very reason I am playing this game, and the reason I do anything in life.”
The other contestants were emotional when they realised what the news must have been.
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“My heart is absolutely breaking for Flick. She’s known for a while that this disease will take her mum’s life, and she’s been preparing herself for that,” said Dani.
Incredibly, Flick decided to stay in the game, walking back into camp to hugs from her tribe mates.
“This isn’t a decision that I’m making lightly at all, but I spoke to my family and they all say I should stay, and that I should do it for mum,” she said through tears.
Speaking to the rest of the tribe, Flick explained that she’d entered into the game knowing this terrible outcome was a possibility.
“As hard as it is to come to terms with something like this, the fairest thing is that she’s out of pain, because there’s been so much suffering. For me, it’s like I said goodbye to my mum years ago,” she told them.
After Flick had decided to stay, the game continued, with contestants soon off to their next immunity challenge. But host Jonathan LaPaglia momentarily broke away from his TV presenter duties to console Flick before the challenge began, giving her a hug and offering his condolences.
“Just know that we’re here for you, alright?” he told her.
Flick’s devastating news from home comes in what’s been a tough season of Survivor, with two of her fellow contestants - Georgia and Chelsea - having to leave the game due to illness.
This isn’t the first time an Australian Survivor contestant has had to grapple with a family tragedy while in the game. Last year, Survivor: All Stars contestant Lee Carseldine left the show after learning his mother had suffered a massive stroke.
Tragically, she died before he was able to make it home.
Flick paid tribute to her mum Pauline in an emotional Instagram post shared after the episode aired last night:
Australian Survivor continues 7.30pm tonight on Ten