The following piece was written by Shaun Edwards from the Sydney Swans, who is involved with Step Back Think. Swans players have donated $5000 of their AFL Players Care funds in lieu of the Lace Up campaign which started on Monday and will continue across the weekend.
It’s the one-punch kill, pub brawls, assaults, school yard fights and it’s the reason why there is one less Christmas present, one less person to hug when they get home, one less son to tell their dad they love them. It’s the reason I’m writing this.
As a 23-year-old male I am part of the main demographic that partakes or commits the act and I also represent the victims.
I’ve bared witness to the horrific devastation and heartache these split-second decisions can have on a personal level and on the wider community.
October 2014 when I heard Joshua had passed on, shock took over. I couldn’t believe one of the most caring souls I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with was now a victim of social violence.
It couldn’t be? Josh wouldn’t find himself in that situation? But as the phone calls and messages kept flooding in, I knew our brother had passed.
Josh was a proud Indigenous man hailing from Darwin who had completed his high school ventures at Melbourne Grammar, traveled the world and was starting his next chapter at Melbourne University studying law.
Growing up I always felt if someone was going to change the way everyday people saw Indigenous people it was going to be him. The effect of losing a future leader, son, uncle, friend and brother is something no one should experience and the pain I’ve watched the Darwin and Melbourne community go through is infinite.
The only positive to come out of the matter is that now myself and others effected are aware and can now use our voice to educate others.
I hope when you’re sitting down this round to cheer on your team you can have a positive conversation about social violence and how you are going to help create the workplaces, schools and society we strive for.
I encourage everybody especially young men to think about your fellow brother and step back and think because the pain on both sides of the fence is simply not worth it.
Lace up this weekend and BE THE CHANGE you want to see.
AFL Players Care is the players’ official charity initiative and was established in 2014 when the male playing group voted to increase their match fee charity contributions from $25 to $50 per player, per game.
While $25 per game per player is still donated to the AFL Players’ official charity partner, Ladder, to help tackle youth homelessness, an additional $25 per game per player is now contributed to the AFL Players Care fund.
$180,000 of this fund is then equally distributed among all 18 male AFL clubs each season giving each team the opportunity to support one or two charities of they are passionate about.