Ashton Kline was 15-years-old when his father doused his mother in petrol, set her alight and left her to die.
It was 'soul-destroying' for him and his six-year-old brother Grant.
"To lose all of my family, to lose everything and be uprooted from the family home was absolutely devastating," he said.
The brothers who had grown up in Kyabram were placed into foster care and provided with emotional and financial support from the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.
Now, almost 19 years on, Mr Kline is sharing his story as an ambassador for the foundation he says helped changed the course of his life, while supporting programs that are having a real impact on children who have experienced trauma.
Watch Ashton and Grant share their story in the video below.
Through his work as a nursing lecturer at Australian Catholic University in Ballarat, Mr Kline has recruited a team of more than 100 nursing students to volunteer at the Alannah and Madeline Foundation creating Buddy Bags.
It is estimated the students have made more than 2000 backpacks full of essential items to be gifted to vulnerable children in emergency accommodation.
Mr Kline said providing support for children who were experiencing violence was important to help enable them to overcome trauma.
This is my story but there are 60,000 other kids who are in that same situation, who have been uprooted from their home and have nothing.Ashton Kline
"Children are uprooted in the middle of their night in their homes after experiencing family violence, put into refuges and they have nothing," he said.
"Grant and I had a case worker assigned to us through the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and 20 years later we are still in contact with that worker.
"Our case worker was at the end of the phone to provide some guidance and support for us and to advocate for us.
"Then there was also financial support for little things, to be able to have a doona and a set of sheets that was our own. In an unfamiliar environment, it provides that one space that is yours. That is where the importance of these Buddy Bags come in.
"This is my story but there are 60,000 other kids who are in that same situation, who have been uprooted from their home and have nothing.
"We really need to work on breaking that cycle of being stuck in a violent situation. Little things like the Buddy Bags go a long way to be able to do that."
As an ambassador for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, Mr Kline often shares his story with young people who may have experienced family violence and trauma.
He said he wanted to share his story to give other young people hope; to show you can break the cycle of violence and release yourself from the hold of trauma.
"Pretty much all of my childhood my father had been violent," he said.
"My earliest memories of my father was having a knife held to my throat, mum being dragged down the driveway and hiding under the bed at the age of five and six wondering if he was going to come home and beat us.
"He had a diagnosed mental illness that was largely untreated. I think part of that was he lived in a country area that was largely under-resourced and part of that was he refused to be medicated."
Mr Kline said he and his brother and mother went in and out of a number of refuges until his mother separated from his father nine months before she was murdered.
"That nine months with my mum is something I really treasure, because suddenly you didn't have to tip toe on egg shells around the house wondering if you were going to upset your father or if a simple incident was going to turn violent and aggressive," he said.
"On the day of the murder he had coaxed her around to assist with cleaning out a caravan he had with Grant's toys in it. He had already doused it in petrol and pre-meditated the murder two weeks prior to that."
Mr Kline's father was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He died two years in to his sentence.
My earliest memories of my father was having a knife held to my throat, mum being dragged down the driveway and hiding under the bed at the age of five and six wondering if he was going to come home and beat us.Ashton Kline
Mr Kline said the support he received from the Alannah and Madeline Foundation after his mother's murder helped him create a positive future.
"I had a lot of support thankfully which has really made me use that trauma and somehow turn it into a positive," he said.
"It is the fuel of my journey now. It really forced me to complete high school and go on to university because I didn't want my father to beat me. I wanted to demonstrate that as hard as he tried he couldn't destroy me and I didn't want my mother's death to be in vain."
Mr Kline completed his studies at Melbourne University before going on to teach at ACU in Melbourne and then moving to Ballarat.
He is the primary carer for his younger brother Grant, now 25, who has end-stage kidney disease.
"It is important for me to share my story to give others hope that you can actually break that cycle and you can release yourself from that hold trauma often has on you," he said.
"We need to create a voice for women and children who have experienced family violence and provide an avenue for people to gain support as soon as possible."
Mr Kline also wants to raise awareness of the importance of speaking out if you see or hear signs of family violence.
"One of the things I had a huge amount of trouble dealing with was my father had basically gone around the town for two weeks prior to the murder and told everyone he was going to murder my mother but no one had thought to warn her or notify the police," he said.
"So many people gave evidence at the trial that he had premeditated this and told people what he was going to do it, but because it was a small country town and everyone knew him as someone who was mentally unstable, nobody did anything.
"If you hear something, or see something take action, don't be afraid to speak up against it."
Almost one million children are living with violence in the home in Australia, according to the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.
The foundation was set up in memory of Alannah and Madeline Mikac, aged six and three, who were killed with their mother and 32 others at Port Arthur, Tasmania in 1996.
The key objectives are to care for children who have experienced or witnessed serious violence, reduce the incidence of bullying, cyber bullying and other cyber risks, and advocate for the safety and well-being of children.
- If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
Is the police intervention working?
Yet another tool to combat the scourge of family violence in Victoria has been launched by police, but are the measures working?
Following on the opening of a dedicated family violence policing unit based in Ballarat and the introduction of body worn cameras, police this week launched its Family Violence Report (FVR) mechanism which aims to take away the paper work and give victims a chance to seek help sooner.
But despite all the measures in place, most recent statistics show a slight increase.
Acting Inspector Dan Davison said the advent of all the tools should see reporting increase, but he admitted he would like to see statistics turn around.
"Locally we are fairly stable," he said.
"We would at this stage expect to see a rise with the work we are doing with our family violence unit, targeting recidivist offenders and working to provide enough support to repeat victims.
"You can't put a timeline on it if it will come down.
"It feels like half our time is spent working with family violence cases. It's a huge issue for society, it does indeed impact on our workload and we wish it wasn't happening, but unfortunately it is."
The new technology has been developed in conjunction with Swinburne University and Forensicare. Completion of the FVR generates a score that predicts the likelihood of future family violence and severe family violence, and will help determine who should manage the investigation.
The FVR has been piloted over two years in police regions in suburban Melbourne. The recent roll out of the app on iPads and phone means police have more than 9000 devices now out in the field.
- Family violence traumatising for children caught in the middle
- "I will never be free": family violence victims suffer abuse after separation
- Latitia Fraser shares her experience of family violence as a brave voice for change
- Family Violence statistics point to a grim reality in Ballarat
- How the system failed this grandmother after a lifetime of family violence
- Specialist family violence training held for police, court and support agencies