Thursday 16th October, 7am in the morning the phone went, and I automatically thought, 'who the hell would ring at this time in the morning'. It was Mum, asking me to ring her back at her neighbours house as her phone was going flat.
Panic struck! Something was definitely wrong, but what could it be? My first thought was that something had happened to Dad as he had not long been out of Hospital after and bowel operation and subsequent blood clot scare.
I rang Mum on the number she gave me, to be told that the house had caught on fire.
It seems that at 3am some drunk 16 year old local gang members had decided that it would be lots of fun to scale the colourbond fence into my parents backyard, break into some secured areas, take some petrol reserved for the lawnmower, pour it over Mum and Dads car parked under the enclosed carport and set it on fire! And of course spraying their Gang sign on the fence before leaving.
The fire then very quickly spread to the house.
Fortunately, Mum, Dad and their cat, all got out in time, but then had the horrid task of watching as their house was on fire, while waiting for the fire brigade to arrive.
Once the fire was put out and the damaged assessed, 2/3 of the house had been damaged and the costs went well over $200,000.
The two 16 year old were caught, when they came back to the scene of the crime, to watch. Apparently this is quite a common thing for them to do, so the Police were on the look out and caught them straight away. Being minors though, we will be lucky if they get a slap on the wrist.
I headed up to Melton in the morning and tried to help with all the questions and assessors that were coming and going throughout the day.
We found out pretty quickly that there would not be enough contents insurance to cover the cleaning of the house, which, because of all the soot, would cost approx. $20,000!
So we started arranging a working bee to help clean and pack up the house, as everything needed to be put in storage until the house was fixed, and that could take up to 6 months.
My Brother and his Wife came from Queensland to help and my Auntie came from Tasmania to be moral support to Mum and Dad.
We had a huge turn up and got all the work done!
I thought that was the hard bit done... but I was wrong.
The emotional scars this has left on my parents has been immense. The nightmares every night, the feeling of not being safe anymore, the uncertainty of what is going to happen next. It has all taken its toll.
The physical side of cleaning is the easy part. Trying to help mend the emotional is far more complex and difficult. Even now, my parents change on a daily basis, from being excited about getting a new house, to not wanting to get out of bed and face life.
I am no psychologist, so the best that I can do is just try and be there for them when they need me, even if it is just to listen.
I wish these 16 year olds could see the after effect their little fun has had on those effected. Maybe they would think twice next time...