What do you love most about being a mum?
I always wanted to be a mum. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd have three beautiful boys, but they are each uniquely different and amazing! We have a LOT of fun together, and over the years I've adapted to boy-life. From learning to play soccer as an adult (so I can engage in what they are obsessed with), including toilet humour in conversations, memorising cricket star's names, making bike jumps (I've even dug up parts of the lawn to do this), to fully embracing the adventurous and albeit slightly dangerous lifestyle which keeps our washing machine in motion 24/7.
Motherhood is a stretch and has brought out the very best in me together with the not very best. Yet, I wouldn't change it for the world and I'm grateful with an overflowing heart that I can be their mum and love them all my days. None of us really know what we're doing so thank God for community, family and friends who have our backs!
Tell us one of your mum hacks.
I get my older boys to do home readers and sight words with my youngest. There's only so much 'Biff and Chip' stories you can handle in one night! This has been a game-changer in our household, it's also super-sweet to see the boys step up in responsibility.
You're passionate about ending slavery, tell us why that's important to you?
A woman's heart is capable of enormous love. Love nurtures, protects, heals, fights, and stands up for others. When I first began learning about modern slavery and human trafficking around 10-15 years ago I was UTTERLY shocked. The realisation that over 40 million children, women and men are beaten, raped and starved in an industry worth US$150 billion globally. 71% female. 1 in 4 a child.
In my early 20’s at a conference, I first heard stories of young girls thinking they were escaping situations of poverty to begin a new job opportunity, instead trafficked, locked in container ships and shipped to Europe to be sold for sex. I discovered most of them did not even survive the journey. I sat there in that auditorium speechless and wept. Who was there to stop these criminals and protect these beautiful girls?
In hindsight, I realise that something birthed in me that day. A deep desire for justice. A longing for people in poverty to be protected from violence and exploitation, for them to experience the freedom I was privileged to have simply because I was born in Australia. I learnt that in fact, I COULD DO something to change this situation. This set me on a path to partnership with IJM. I'm so passionate about our work because I can see that what we are doing is actually making a massive impact. Not only are we rescuing victims and supporting their restoration, but by bringing criminals to justice we are changing the fear equation. It's not the vulnerable that fear exploitation, but the powerful who fear prosecution!
What does it look like?
It looks like men, women and children sold, tricked or forced into slavery. Like Kashi- a little girl sold at 5 years old, exploited for a decade and forced to have sex every day with male customers in South Asia. Foli- a young boy forced to work on a fishing boat for 18 hours a day in Ghana. *Maarko and his baby sister *Gabi, forced to perform sex acts in front of a camera for the gratification of western men. The list goes on. What all these survivors have in common is that they live in situations of poverty, in countries where the enforcement of law needs strengthening.
I live in the leafy suburbs of Sydney, so it's hard for me to imagine, but estimates suggest that 5 BILLION PEOPLE live outside the benefits and protection of the law.
How do you stay inspired to continue the work?
Survivor stories. I've had the privilege of meeting survivors and now seeing them now flourish in freedom - it's truly incredible. But what really inspires me is the sustainable results. We completed a 5-year project from 2006-2010 to see if the number of children exploited in commercial sex trafficking in Cebu could be reduced. The results blew our mind! An external evaluator found that the prevalence of children exploited in bars and brothels within Cebu plummeted by 72%! In Manila we documented a 75% reduction and in Pampanga an 86% reduction. Through survivor rescue and restoration, as well as holding the criminals accountable, justice is possible. IJM's results proved children could be protected from ever experiencing exploitation in the first place.
We've brought freedom to more than 66,000 people experiencing violence and oppression. And we have convicted more than 3,200 criminals in local courts, ensuring they can't hurt others. These numbers represent real lives transformed and real systemic change that ultimately means protection for millions.
As a Mum, I get so much from seeing my three boys thrive and enjoy life. I also get so much joy to see men, women and children rescued from slavery and set free.