On Sunday, Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes presented a very special episode titled Courage, strength, hope. As the name suggests, the program featured a group of truly remarkable Australians – ordinary people who experienced tragedy and loss and have shown enormous courage stepping forward to make a difference.
Among this group were Ralph and Kathy Kelly, who have become passionate advocates for preventing alcohol harms after their eldest son Thomas was the victim of an alcohol-fuelled assault in 2012.
“I think that our strength comes from the love of our son,” Kathy reflects.
“He’s not here anymore so we have to carry on for him and to make him, and our other children, proud. If we can do something to stop other families from going through what we went through with his loss, then it’s worth getting up and fighting for every single day.”
Ralph and Kathy have already achieved so much.
After their horror experience in court they fought, and won, to have alcohol removed as a mitigating factor in sentencing. They were also instrumental in introducing New South Wales lockout laws, which have led to a significant reduction in alcohol-related violence.
The Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, which was founded in their son’s memory, now provides assistance to youth. The Foundation’s initiatives, including Sydney’s Safe Space and the Take Kare ambassadors, are dedicated to helping keep young people safe at night and making sure they get home.
“Most of this is common sense. But there’s not a lot of common sense in the government and systems, and that’s the most frustrating part,” says Ralph.
“The anger becomes determination. We’ve all experienced anger I’m sure, and it makes you curl up in a ball some days. But other days it gives you the strength and determination to find purpose, to do something. Because you can’t let what somebody else did to you, or your family, destroy you,” says Kathy.
Ralph and Kathy Kelly with Channel Nine 60 Minutes reporter Michael Usher.
Visit the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation website to find out more about Ralph and Kathy’s work. You can also follow TKYF on Facebook or on Twitter at @TKYFDN. This Festive Season, help get a friend home safely by making a donation of what you’d usually spend travelling home on a night out.