October 12th 2009
AN OPEN LETTER TO SAM POGSON & MURRAY LAPHAM - the former directors of the now collapsed Australian Capital Reserve (ACR).
My name is Judy. In one week I will be undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumour which has claimed much of my eye sight.
It has been a hard morning, writing cards to my husband and children and making sure things I want or need to say have been done.
We were just a normal family, with four children and a dog. Living in Canberra with my husband working in the public service, a lovely home, two cars and going through what every family does.
A fall changed that, when it was discovered I had Multiple Sclerosis. One major thing that would help my condition was to live in a milder climate and something good was to come from the diagnosis, the dream my husband had always had of moving to the coast.
We bought a small house for the two of us; it needed work but we were looking forward to making it our own by renovating slowly and watching it change. Our [adult] children all happy to remain in Canberra were thrilled at the idea of a holiday home by the sea.
The Canberra home was sold. We were happy with the result knowing we could retire, make our new home and spend hours sitting on the deck just being together.
The money combined with our life savings was sitting in a bank waiting for us to decide how to invest it. Not our area of expertise, we were advised to put it all in Australian Capital Reserve (ACR). Great returns and secure. We did just that believing it would only be until we were settled and then we could start on our dream home and re-invest so we would have a nice trust for the children and money to live on.
Seven weeks passed. One night when we sat to eat dinner in front of the TV Channel nine news reported the collapse of ACR.
My husband, the strongest person I have ever known, fell to the floor. He remained there for two weeks. Not eating, not sleeping, not showering nor talking, just numb almost in a trance.
We did not just lose all of our money, we lost our pride, our dignity and our future. My husband felt he had failed. As a father, as a husband as a provider and no one, not even our children would ever know of his shame.
We faced two choices, to get up and go on or give in. So many times suicide seemed the better of the two options but our love for each other kept us going, an ability to keep looking at the good we had which was each other.
Because of our finances, we had to withdraw from health insurance so the wait for my surgery has allowed the tumour to grow. We can't have the doctor or hospital of our choice and certainly can't afford any after-care at home.
My husband works from 5am to 5 pm, almost two hours drive from home and cannot take time from work or we will lose the only income we now have.
It has crossed my mind several times that if I don't make it through the surgery, at least my husband could afford a better life for himself, albeit without me. I also know he would then take his own life and then the children would at least have some financial help from the sale of our home.
This letter explains only part of what the collapse of ACR has done to us.
Coming home totally blind is a real possibility after the surgery but now I look at the positives. No longer would I see the bare floor boards, our rooms with no walls, our ceilings which we can see the roof tiles through. I would not see our daughters' faces when they realise we can not afford their weddings or our son's face who is hoping we will help him with his first home.
More importantly, I won't see my husband so very tired after working so many hours, fighting his diabetes and neglecting to take medication because of the cost. I won't see the continuing hurt in his face from feeling so helpless.
So much of who he was, was taken away from him and his biggest fear is that he will lose me which is all he has worth fighting for.
To the Directors of ACR - Samuel Pogson and Murray Lapham - I hope you never have to face the challenges that we are facing. I hope that all the money you gained from all the plain Janes gives you the lives you wanted.
I really hope that at least one of you have the courage to read this and can, just for a moment, feel something.