News & Insight

An Open Letter to Barry O'Farrell

Dear Mr O'Farrell,

Alcohol-fuelled violence has had devastating consequences for my family.

Alcohol-fuelled violence fills our hospitals each week, causes horrific injuries, and in the case of our family, the loss, one year ago today, of our son Thomas.

Thousands upon thousands of Australians are affected every year.

My question for you, Premier, is: ''Are you and your government fully addressing the issue?" Can you honestly say that you are doing everything to prevent the horror inflicted on my family that fateful night last year?

And before you answer that question, let me ask you this: Are you confident that when your teenage children go out into our city at night that they will return safely?

That should be a given in such a sophisticated city, but recently the facts suggest that this is simply not the case. Millions of Australian parents and carers of teenagers now share the concern that, in fact, their children are not necessarily safe when they head off into town for a night out.

So I ask you again, why is tackling the issue of alcohol-fuelled violence not a top priority for the government of NSW? Why is the government turning a blind eye to the issue? Premier, while I am sure we share a parent's concern for our children, the people of NSW do not accept that they should have to fear for the safety of their sons and daughters as a result of a lack of action on alcohol-fuelled violence.

I am not resigned to accepting a world in which we surrender our rights to be safe on our streets.

My son's life was taken. A random, yet deliberate and violent, act, and since then other cases have shown that this is anything but an isolated case.

As a community, we will never accept or tolerate that life-threatening injuries or fatalities can be considered an acceptable consequence of a night out in our beautiful Sydney.

A few months after we lost Thomas, my 14-year-old son, Stuart, said to me out of the blue one day, "Dad, your generation was lucky."

"Why?" I asked, completely perplexed by his statement.

"Look at my generation and what I have to grow up with," he replied.

How would you suggest I explain to my children Madeleine and Stuart that what happened to their brother will in all likelihood be tragically repeated?

We need a strong and decisive response. Real action by the NSW state government is needed now.

Offenders that are prepared to attack another person with no regard for the injuries they inflict on a fellow human being do not deserve leniency. We need to adopt zero tolerance in our community for anti-social, violent behaviour, an approach that needs to be reflected in the policing of our streets and the sentencing in our courts.

But that should just be the start, Premier. We require real change. We need effective measures to address the issue in a meaningful and long-term manner.

You need to have the courage to do what is right and what can work.

I call on you Premier to reduce the trading hours of licensed venues, set limits on the number of new liquor licences, and provide the community with a greater say in the determination of new liquor licences.

The Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation was established as a legacy to Thomas, in the hope that through education, government intervention and awareness-raising, we can work to curb violence associated with alcohol abuse in our community.

On this, the one-year anniversary of Thomas' death, I urge you, Premier, to listen to the concerns of the people of NSW, to enact measures that will reduce alcohol-fuelled violence, make our streets safer, and prevent more senseless loss of life or serious injury.

Ralph Kelly, and the directors of the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation Limited.

Read More SMH 7th July

Published on by TKYF. Source.