Step Back Think launches “Lace Up” campaign

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Sports clubs join campaign to reduce frightening one-punch assault stats

http://www.theage.com.au/

The Age – June 11 2015
Alana Schetzer

A new awareness campaign to reduce “one-punch” assaults will be launched this weekend with players at hundreds of sporting clubs, including some major football clubs, wearing orange laces to highlight the issue.

Advocacy group Step Back Think is behind the new “Lace Up” campaign that will include Melbourne Storm, Melbourne Rebels and Greater Western Sydney.

Step Back Think was established in honour of James Macready-Bryan, who was brutally assaulted in a one-punch attack in 2006 and left with a catastrophic brain injury.

His mother, Robyn Brewin, said people often don’t think of the consequences of antisocial violence and how it can forever change lives.

“Anyone with a serious brain injury, they’re going to have it for the rest of their lives,” she said.

“But I think the awareness is making a difference. We need to get out to young people who are going out at night or aren’t well controlled when they’re drunk or on drugs – it’s about educating young people, peer to peer.”

Many states and territories have introduced dedicated laws for one-punch deaths in recent years, including Queensland and New South Wales, which introduced a new offence – assault causing death.

In Victoria, the minimum sentence for one-punch killers was raised to 10 years as part of the former Napthine government’s baseline sentencing reforms last November.

There have been several high-profile cases in recent years, including that of David Cassai, who died after being punched in the head on the Mornington Peninsula on New Year’s Eve in 2012. His killer was sentenced to a minimum of six years for manslaughter.

Step Back Think’s head of education, Ben O’Toole, said too many Australians were unaware that a person involved in a physical fight could die.

Research commissioned by the group showed 96 people had been killed by one-punch assaults across Australia in the past 15 years.

“One wrong decision can lead to a life-changing injury or death. It not only ruins the life of the victim and perpetrator, but drastically affects their families, friends and the wider community,” Mr O’Toole said.

Mr O’Toole, who suffered a brain hemorrhage after he was assaulted in a one-punch attack eight years ago, said many offenders became violent in an effort to look “tough” in front of their friends.