"While my little girl was giggling, this little boy was gasping for his last breaths"

“Somewhere further north of me a little one-year old boy slipped out of his mother’s arms and into the frigid, icy sea.”





On Friday 12th July I was getting ready to go away for the weekend with my family, including our two daughters aged one and two. I was trying to pack the car in the space of a Playschool episode and watching my one- year old crawl enthusiastically from one end of the house to the other, stopping occasionally to laugh at a leaf, the dog or something else equally hysterical.

Somewhere further north of me a little one-year old boy slipped out of his mother’s arms and into the frigid, icy sea. While my little girl was giggling this little boy was gasping for his last breaths, presumably frightened and alone.

While I was packing my car and shovelling cheese sticks in my children’s mouths a mother was trying to cling to her baby, slippery and wet, clothes weighing her down, frantic to keep hold of her little boy.

This mother, like me, felt the pain of childbirth, cuddled her child to her breast after he was born into the world, named him, fed him, clothed him. She cared for him enough to risk her life, and his, to make the treacherous voyage to Australia in the hopes of a better life, no doubt for her son.

Since I read this news I have been gripped with sadness. I see this little boy echoed in my children and my heart breaks. As a parent all I want is to protect my babies and keep them safe and warm, I know that this little boy’s mother would feel the same and that somewhere she is grieving; heartbroken and desperate for the soft, warm weight of her little man.

This is not a political issue; this is a human rights issue. It is easy to hear the numbers on news reports without attaching any value to it. Somehow their humanity is lost in their quantity, or perhaps it is their alien culture that allows us to disassociate from them as individuals. Do we rationalise that because these people risked their lives that their deaths are less tragic and shocking, that they somehow deserve it? Perhaps we need to spend some time reflecting on the lives they are fleeing, and why they are exposing themselves and their families to such frightening risks.


I remember growing up my Mum said to me, “a society should be judged on the way they treat the marginalised, sick and vulnerable”, can we say this as Australians? Regardless of your stance on refugees, can you tolerate being part of this tragic and unnecessary loss of life.


I am not a particularly politically motivated person. I have watched with equal doses of humour and repugnance at the side-show that is Australian politics at the moment: the name-calling, bickering and back-stabbing that is paralysing our politicians and policy-makers. I am writing this as a mother, daughter and Australian. Something needs to change. We must demand a solution to this. We are not a country that stands apathetically by while little babies drown in our seas.

So I hope that we can all remember this sweet little one-year old boy as we go about our day. Whatever your thoughts on the politics of the situation, let’s keep him in our minds. He deserved more in his little life. As I watch my one-year old throw pumpkin at her sister and wiggle enthusiastically to my toneless singing, I think of this dear baby and his family and wish that they could feel the same sense of safety, security and peace that my family enjoys.

I hope one day we know this child’s name, so he can be memorialised appropriately, perhaps then it will not be so easy to flick the page of the newspaper, change the channel on the television or switch off the radio.

Rest in peace dear child.

Lucy Grey is a mother of two sweet girls and also a registered nurse. She lives on the South Coast of NSW with frequent trips to Sydney to keep her sane.