A talented footy player, student, friend, son and brother, MB was on the cusp of adulthood. His world was full of possibilities. That night, MB was assaulted by someone he didn’t know. He was punched once to the face, fell to the ground and hit his head on the concrete.
He suffered a brain injury from which he will never recover. He cannot walk, communicate, eat or play the sport he once excelled at.
Step Back Think exists with the aim that no other young person, no other family, no other community will experience the pain and suffering James and his family live with every day and have done for 10 years.
Step Back Think was born from the very real experience and pain felt by the Macready-Bryan family. It was built by the love, compassion and dedication of those around them and it is growing under the hard work and determination of a team that believes in our vision to end social violence.
So 10 years after MB’s assault, and his 30th birthday, this is a time for reflection.
Consider this: already in 2016 there have been 14 social violence-related deaths. Within the past few weeks, Jason Goodwin, 27, in Mandurah and Timothy Lang, 48, in Brisbane, have lost their lives to violent but preventable acts.
The impacts of social violence are felt across the community by a range of people. There are those who lose their lives, or suffer injury and permanent disability; their families and friends who are faced with unimaginable hardship caused by the loss or disabling of a loved one; by the frontline responders, who as part of their job are routinely exposed to confronting and difficult situations; by the policy makers who are charged with making communities safe.
Social violence is not a problem that happens over there, to other people; it is a problem that affects every one of us in painfully direct and indirect ways.
Step Back Think exists because we know that this type of violence — social violence, youth violence, pub brawls, fights on the street and the sporting field — is not an inevitable part of our society. Violence is a learned behaviour. That means we can change that behaviour in the same way we have seen for many successful campaigns in the past, campaigns related to things such as seatbelts and drink-driving.
But it won’t be easy and it will take time. It will take the efforts and backing of all of us to make the change. And we’ll do it by changing our culture.
On this day 10 years ago, the world was full of possibilities for MB. Today, the world is full of possibilities for Step Back Think.
To me, Step Back Think represents the possibility of lives saved, of pain avoided, of eliminating anguish, regret and sadness, of young people contributing to their community and the economy, of apprenticeships and university courses finished instead of abandoned, of love experienced instead of being snuffed out.
Step Back Think is the possibility of a society of free from violence. There is nothing impossible about it.
So how can you be part of the cultural change to end social violence?
GIVE MB a 30th birthday present by making a donation to Step Back Think.
HOST An Afternoon Tea for MB to raise funds for Step Back Think
RUN for Step Back Think in the City2Sea
BOOK an education presentation for your school or sporting club
HAVE a conversation with your mates, kids and sporting team about aggression and violence and what it means to promote safe social environments and respectful community relationships.
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CONSIDER becoming a regular giver and make a monthly, quarterly or annual donation.
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This piece first appeared in the Herald Sun on Thursday 13th October.