COMMENT

Died after punch: Thomas Kelly.

Died after punch: Thomas Kelly.

We had prepared ourselves for this kind of news, but it still came as a shock.

On New Year's Eve, in almost exactly the same spot in Kings Cross where our beloved son Thomas was killed, another young man had fallen victim to the rage of alcohol-fuelled violence.

A single punch. Another young man fighting for his life. Another family distraught and torn apart.

When is this going to end?

Our hearts go out to the family of young Daniel Christie. No one outside the family can really understand the pain they are going through right now.

Police allege that Daniel's attacker had drunk eight beers and a glass of wine beforehand and that he was already on a good behaviour bond for assault.

Because someone has been charged, we cannot comment more. But we know that something has to change. Too many lives are being taken from us. The toll is mounting, and the government is far too slow to act.

Just a few days after Kieran Loveridge was sentenced to a miserly four years jail for killing Tom, we started a petition at change.org/thomaskelly calling for minimum sentencing laws in cases of manslaughter.

More than 23,000 people have already signed our petition and we have had some encouraging signs from the government. And while we are still determined to see changes to minimum sentencing laws in cases of manslaughter, it is clear that more needs to be done to tackle the spiralling issue of alcohol-fuelled violence.

In particular, we need laws that will send a strong message to young people and the community in general that alcohol abuse and excessive drinking should not serve as an excuse for violence. Right now, the law does not do that.

Too often, criminals are using excessive drinking as an excuse for their behaviour.

The central plank of our new proposal to the NSW government is to take into account the penalties for any crime committed while affected by alcohol or drugs.

Recently, accompanied by leading lawyer Alexander Street, SC, we met Attorney-General Greg Smith to propose three key areas of reform to the NSW Sentencing Act. These are in our updated change.org/thomaskelly petition:

 Any crimes committed while affected by alcohol or drugs are identified as a ''mandatory aggravating factor'' that must be taken into account on sentencing. This will serve to send the right message of the primary role that alcohol plays in violence and crimes within NSW and require sentences to reflect this aggravating feature.

 The aggravating factor of ''conditional liberty'' expanded to any ''good behaviour bond''. This will tackle the issue of repeat offenders.

Youth and the inability of a victim to defend themselves as being aggravating factors that must be taken into account. This would help stop attacks on the most defenceless and vulnerable.

Importantly these additions would be incorporated within all areas of criminal activity, including domestic violence and sexual assault.

Right now, our sentencing laws are out of sync with public sentiment. Eighteen months ago we lost Tom. Three days ago, another family's boy was attacked. Until something changes, there will be more.

Social and behavioural change occurs only when we stand as one and demand that change happens.

Now is that time. Time to say we are fed up with the culture of excessive drinking. Time to say we are fed up with violence on our streets, fuelled by alcohol abuse.

Please sign our petition on change.org/thomaskelly and share it with friends and family. Together we can do this. Thank you.

Ralph and Kathy Kelly are the parents of Thomas Kelly, who was fatally punched in King Cross in 2012.