I established The Jude O’Brien Fund to honour my son Jude, who was killed alongside his mother Bianka and neighbour Chris in a deliberately-lit fire at our Rozelle home in 2014. I want Jude’s legacy to be helping others who have suffered the loss or damage of their homes due to a fire.
Our initial mission at the Jude O’Brien Fund is three-fold – to campaign for a day of remembrance for house fire victims; to raise funds to build a children’s park at the site of the explosion; and to offer initial and ongoing assistance to those who have lost their homes.
I know all too well the trauma and heartache involved in a fire – I not only lost my family, but also my entire house, and all my belongings.
Thankfully, not everyone who experiences a house fire will also go through the traumatic experience of losing a loved one, but losing a home, or having it severely damaged, brings a different trauma to those involved.
I was surrounded by people wanting to help me, but it was a simple act by my brother that enabled me to have the most practical immediate support I needed. He bought and packed me a suitcase – it was full of everything I needed to get by in the first week or so after losing my home and all my belongings.
This is what we want to offer to others. The Jude O’Brien Fund is committed to delivering same assistance to victims of fires immediately after the incident. Working with Fire and Rescue NSW and Service NSW, and with the support of luggage brand Samsonite, the Fund will provide fire chaplains with suitcases full of essential items they can offer the victims after they experience a fire.
It is my mission that through our advocacy, campaigning and fundraising work, we can offer essential assistance to those going through the devastation of a house fire.
Thank you for your support.
“Fire can have an immediate and tragic consequence, and being able to provide immediate help for victims makes a real and considerable difference. The Jude O’Brien Fund reaches out to people in their most desperate time of need to give practical help and hope.”Roger Mentha, Assistant Commissioner, N.S.W. Fire & Rescue.
“Losing your home to fire is different for everyone. After the initial shock, it is vital those affected start to take back control of their lives and they can only do this through access to information and resources. This is an immediate need that others may not understand unless you have been in similar situations. It is also a vital step forward in the healing process.”Dave Owens, APM, retired State Emergency Operations Controller.
“Having your home destroyed by fire is a life changing event which can take a long time to recover from. Those first few hours can be daunting to the fact that you have lost everything. The Jude O’Brien Initiative will assist those who have lost everything and are looking to help in those first few days. It will give people something to start over.”Michael Forbes, Leading Station Officer, Fire Investigation and Research Unit, Fire and Rescue NSW