Gala Sports Auction Dinner

The Foundation would like to acknowledge The Redland Times for allowing the reproduction of this article published in the Redland Times newspaper.

Gala sports auction night raises $34,000 for Stanley Foundation

A FOUNDATION dedicated to the battle gainst youth violence raised about $34,000 at  gala auction night at irromet Winery, Mt Cotton last week.

The Matthew Stanley Foundation was set up after the bashing death of 15-year-old sporting enthusiast Matthew Stanley outside a party at Alexandra Hills nearly two years ago.Dozens of donated items were put up for auction including a signed 2008 Queensland State of Origin jersey, a soccer ball signed by David Beckham and the
Manchester United team, a Broncos jersey signed by the 2008 premiership-winning team, and a Socceroos jersey. These four items sold for $4000 or more at auction. Many of the 141 guests also donated money.

Founder Paul Stanley said the new funds would allow the foundation to develop a
safety education plan and DVDs for distribution to schools. “I was so surprised at
the support we got – the amounts that were paid for some of the items were incredible,” he said.

Brisbane twists its way to new world record

Brisbane twists its way to new world record
Tony Moore | May 5, 2008 – 12:46PM

The Foundation would like to acknowledge the Brisbane Times for allowing the reproduction of this article published in the Brisbane Times on May 5, 2008.
What would drag hundreds of young people inside a large sports complex to tackle the world’s largest Twister mat?

The chance to make their way into the Guinness Book of Records, that’s what.

This morning, more than 200 people did just that.

Twisted Events ’08 set out a twister mat 28.56 metres long and 9.48 metres wide inside the Hibiscus Sports Complex at Mt Gravatt.

That smashed the previous world record set in 2005, for the world’s largest-ever twister mat.

In 2005, the record was 27.1 metre by 8.43 metres, so Twisted Events ’08 smashed the 2005 record by more than a metre on all sides.

The event also raised money for the Matthew Stanley Foundation, set up to raise awareness of the stupidity of teen violence.

Redlands youngster Matthew Stanley was killed in September 2006 when he was punched outside a party.

Matthew’s father, Paul Stanley, was on hand today to talk to youngsters about the stupidity of teen violence.

The Twisted Events ’08 twister mat challenge is another in a long, line of community events where Mr Stanley gives young people an idea of what might happen after a senseless act of violence.

“The thing is we are generating an awful lot awareness,” he said.

“The thing about youth violence is that it can impact on anyone, whether they are a young person, or a grandmother. Everyone has a young person who could be affected.”

The Matthew Stanley Foundation has not courted contributions from the State Government, so it can keep a measure of control over how the money they raise is used.

Today there are t-shirts, wrist bands and information packs, produced using money donated from private businesses.

It has allowed Mr Stanley to work on this project full-time, with a work colleague helping run his business.

He has a realistic, long-term vision for the Matthew Stanley Foundation and spends a lot of time talking at Queensland schools.

“You can never stop the violence. All you can do is make a difference,” he said.

“All you can do is try to show young people the implications of what a single punch might be.

“It could end up like my son, with someone in the grave.”

Information from matthewstanleyfoundation.com.au or telephone 3821 6700.

One Punch Can Kill

One punch can kill, youth told
2:51p.m. 6 February 2008
By Mark Furler

Police Minister Judy Spence today launched the second phase of the One Punch Can Kill campaign which aims to teach young people the consequences of violence.

Phase two features a dedicated website, interactive game, videos, bus advertising and a large inflatable display to be used at events such as music festivals.

“As Chair of the Government’s Youth Violence Task Force, it became clear that many young men have no idea that a split second decision to engage in violence can destroy lives,” Ms Spence said.

“They just don’t realise they can kill someone or be killed themselves – devastating family and friends.

“Even if the violence doesn’t end in death they can end up with a criminal record, spend time in jail, pay big fines, and lose employment prospects or the chance to travel overseas,” Ms Spence said.

A key recommendation from the Youth Violence Task Force was to undertake an education campaign, aimed at Generation Y, about the consequences of violence.

This campaign has been specifically designed to reach Generation Y and includes the use of the internet and new media.

The first phase, launched in December, included radio ads, convenience advertising in pubs and clubs, and internet sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Yahoo and Hotmail.

“Our internet banner ad has already appeared more than two million times on Facebook and one million times on MySpace.

“Already, just through word of mouth, almost 500 people have joined the One Punch Can Kill Group on Facebook.

“Phase two of the campaign involves taking the online education to a new level with a dedicated One Punch Can Kill website which includes an online interactive game. The concept of the game is for young men to reach their girl without getting into a fight or drinking too much.

“The website will also stream two videos which show what could happen if a young man fights and what could happen if he walks away. Gen Y does not respond well to being told what to do. This approach gives the information and allows young people to make their own mind up.

“These videos will also be available to television stations as community service announcements.

“An 11 metre by 7 metre outdoor inflatable display has also been developed to be used at events that appeal to Gen Y such as music festivals and rural shows. One Punch Can Kill promotional materials such as button badges and wrist bands will be handed out to people who visit the display.

“There will also be advertising, on the backs of buses and in bus interiors, featuring prominent young women and the slogan ‘I support blokes who don’t fight’. This is based on research that shows young males are particularly influenced by the women in their lives such as friends, girlfriends, housemates, siblings and Mums.

Ms Spence thanked the Matthew Stanley Foundation and the Queensland Homicide Victims’ Support Group for their ongoing efforts to raise community awareness of this issue.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders said: “The One Punch Can Kill message will also go hand in hand with the Party Safe message. I encourage all people who are hosting parties to register them with police.

“All Queenslanders, particularly young men in the 15-25 age group need to realise the potential consequence of violence, particularly when alcohol is involved.

“It’s ok to walk away from a confrontation.

“Time and time again police see the results of one moment of madness – one punch which leads to devastating consequences.

“This is not for shock value – one punch really can kill,” Ms Rynders said.

Protect Our Children

Article, ‘Protect Our Children’ by Danney Lannen, first published on 3 December2007 in the Geelong Advertiser (Regional Daily) Edition 1, is reproduced by permission – thank you to the Geelong Advertiser.

Geelong Advertiser (Regional Daily), Edition 1 – MON 03 DEC 2007

By: DANNY LANNEN, The Drink And Us

A bereaved father wants Geelong and Victoria to sit up and listen to his message that alcohol doesn’t belong in the hands of kids and that sometimes senseless tragedy can result. DANNY LANNEN reports …

PAUL Stanley interrupted another’s expression of condolence for the death of his son Matthew at 15. He expressed his thanks and then let his heart speak.

He said what he felt about a teenager who would terminate the life of another with violence and then he pointed to a problem stalking communities country-wide.
“The thing is that alcohol was a bit part of what happened to Matty,” he said.
“Where does somebody of 16 get that alcohol? They’ve got to get it from somewhere.’”

And so a father living immeasurable loss in Queensland shared his powerful message with the people of Geelong and Victoria and urged them to act on the sorry toll from the supply of alcohol to willing, vulnerable kids.

“It can happen to you you know, that’s really what it boils down to,” Mr Stanley said. “When I was growing up in New Zealand the drinking age was 21, nowadays because they’ve brought the drinking age back to 18 an under-ager is a baby.
“You see a 13-year-old walking down the street p-ssed. Somebody is giving these children alcohol.” Matthew Stanley died within 24 hours of being punched outside a party in suburban Brisbane in September last year. A boy, 16 at the time of the offence, was convicted of his manslaughter and sentenced to jail with 2 1/2 years minimum.

Almost 1000 people attended Matthew Stanley’s funeral and a website now stands in his memory and against alcohol-related violence.

Mr Stanley challenged Geelong to stand up to senseless human waste by calling for legislative reform. He spoke as a Queensland Youth Violence Task Force report tabled late last week proposed 16 legislative changes, including action on supply and marketing of alcohol to young people and alcohol education and harm minimisation.
Mr Stanley was a member of the task force and said the recommendations had immediately grabbed attention. “It’s not a political statement but I think there’s a bit in the fact that our Premier Anna Bligh got a copy of the recommendations on Tuesday morning and on Wednesday turned around and said they were going with it,” he said. “They have already committed $800,000 to an advertising campaign about One Punch Can Kill and associated things with youth violence and drinking, and that’s a big call.”

Geelong parents are among people agitating for legislative change to make it illegal for adults to supply alcohol to minors who are not their children. They hope to target teen parties where kids are allowed to drink and hosts can legally supply them with alcohol. Lara mum and campaigner Helen Torpy urged Victoria to move in the same direction. “This is such a big step,” Ms Torpy said. “Hopefully our state will follow and specially because Mr Brumby has announced plans for a new alcohol task force.
“I don’t know anyone who would possibly object to bringing in this legislation to protect our kids.” Premier John Brumby announced plans for a Victorian alcohol abuse task force last month but has not revealed its plan of attack. Mr Stanley urged parents to be game enough to make a difference for their kids. “Parents have got to take a step back and don’t be bullied,” he said. “Say no, they’re not having it and if they’re having a party for a 16-year-old son or daughter say it’s alcohol-free, they’re under-age. “And don’t let kids walk in with bottles of Coke under their arms, and go and check the bottom of the garden where they might have been passing during the day and chucked grog over the fence.” Mr Stanley despaired at the thought of parents packing kids off to schoolies celebrations with boot-loads of booze and had strong advice for kids considering drinking too much too soon.

“Be bloody careful, look after your friends, look after your mates because being dead is a long, long time,” he said.
Link www.matthewstanleyfoundation.com.au

Time for a Party Plan

Safe Party Plan

Safe Party PlanBy: Graham Readfearn   

An experienced bouncer says rules are necessary to help young people party safely, writes Graham Readfearn
ALTHOUGH it might not look like it, this man really does want you to drink, dance and have a great time.
After 25 years of working as a bouncer in New Zealand and Queensland, Andrew Alaelua says he’s seen “every kind of misery”.
There’s been young blood splattered on pavements, teenage girls getting hooked on party drugs and hundreds of teenagers with their senses lost in a hedonistic haze.
Alaelua hopes his experiences over the years can now help young people to get the best out of a night out — waking up in the morning with nothing more than a hangover.
“The average Aussie 18-year-old only knows the structure that they have had at school,” says the 44-year-old from Eagleby, south of Brisbane. “At school, no one gets hurt in fights and the teachers don’t punch back.”
Alaelua has developed a course called Party Smart, which aims to teach teenagers and young adults some basic rules of how to behave and what to watch out for when they go out to party. He also sells “night out” kits on his website, which include personal alarms and drink spike tests.
Despite what many young people believe, says Alaelua, having a fight or leading a guy on just for some free drinks isn’t an acceptable part of a night out.
“Things can go wrong very quickly — and it’s because young people either have no information or the wrong information,” he says.
Alaelua says many young people believe they have a legal right to enter a public bar, even though entry is at the discretion of the door staff.
He says many also have misconceptions about the right way to behave and end up in altercations unnecessarily — often with security staff at the entrance.
“We need to start educating young people about what life is really like. These really are beautiful people — they are young and they will have a great ride, but how many of them will get themselves into trouble along the way?” he says. “They can go out there and have a great time and maybe meet a girl or a guy — rather than finding themselves on the floor somewhere.”
When it comes to fights between revellers, Alaelua says simply not reacting to a taunt or asking security staff for advice can be enough to stop a minor problem escalating.
Alaelua has delivered a workshop to the Matthew Stanley Foundation, which was set up after the 15-year-old was killed in a bashing outside a party in the Brisbane suburb of Alexandra Hills in September last year.
Jess McCabe, 16, from Wellington Point on Brisbane’s southside, who attended the workshop, says the information was certainly not the kind of thing you would learn at school.
“He (Alaelua) spoke to us in a way that was really easy to understand — he was pretty straightforward,” she says.
Paul Stanley, Matthew’s father, says he thinks the concept of the Party Smart course is “fantastic”.
“Andrew really was talking their talk,” Stanley says. “I think Andrew has a great concept and the kids themselves said that it really made them think.
“Some of them who were not that long turned 18 said they wished they’d had that information before they started going out.”
(A 17-year-old male, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is due to be sentenced on November 16 after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Matthew Stanley.)
Since his son was killed, Paul Stanley has been raising funds for the foundation set up to cut youth violence.
Inspector Murray Ryan, of Queensland Police Service’s drug and alcohol co-ordination unit, says the No.1 piece of advice they give to young people is to drink responsibly.
“The data that we get from Queensland Health indicates that drinking patterns of young people are about — as some people describe it — binge-drinking. We would rather call it unsafe drinking.”
Ryan says anyone who is confronted with a threatening situation while on a night out should inform security staff or police.
“If they are not made aware of it, then they can’t take any action,” he says.
Ryan adds that young people should always be aware of their surroundings, and take a few seconds to look at where security staff are stationed.
Making sure that one member of your group is not drinking, so that they can help anyone who does get into difficulty, is another good technique.

Tips for safe parties from the Queensland Police Service through its Party Safe initiative: www.police.qld.gov.au
More information about Party Smart: www.partysmart.net.au. Price: $100 each, (or $100 for two parents).
Information about the Matthew Stanley Foundation: www.matthewstanleyfoundation.com.au
PARTY PULLS NO PUNCHES
A CUT the Violence street party to raise funds for the Matthew Stanley Foundation is being held on Sunday from 9am until 1pm on Doig St in Cleveland, on Brisbane’s bayside. Live bands, raffles, street performers, hot rods, muscle cars and sponsored hair cuts are among the attractions. Entry is free.

Losing Matty

The Foundation would like to acknowledge The Courier-Mail for allowing the reproduction of this article published in the QWeekend magazine on February 24, 2007.

Losing Matty
Story Trent Dalton

He was the perfect baby who never made it to adulthood. For families like Matt Stanley’s, the loss of a teenager to youth violence defies understanding.

JANUARY 23, 1991

2.20pm and Matthew Stanley is born, one year and 17 days since Laura, his older sister, died at birth. Paul and Kay Stanley were told they would not have children after Laura. But here’s Matthew, seven pounds and 14 ounces (3.57 kilos) of perfection.

He’ll be a peaceful baby. He’ll sleep through the night. He’ll sleep through his father’s lawn mowing.

He’ll be clever. In primary school, he’ll shoot through his work and help tutor his classmates. In four years’ time, he’ll have a brother, Nicholas, who he will goad and harass and shield like armour. He won’t have one best friend, he’ll have a hundred. He’ll eat like a horse. One day, he will bring eight sandwiches to high school. He’ll play soccer, touch football and golf and steal the sports pages from his father’s newspaper. At 15, he’ll be known for his scruffy blond hair and his untucked shirt. His teachers will call him a “walking uniform violation”. On the surface he’ll look like any other teenager.

But Paul and Kay will know the truth: their Matty is a miracle.

The Stanleys celebrate Nick’s birthday at a Cleveland restaurant, a short drive from their Thornlands home. Matt steals food from Nick’s plate and Nick, 12 years old now, gives as good as he gets. Matt’s got a party to go to, an 18th birthday party in Alexandra Hills. He’ll be sleeping overnight at his friend Dominic’s house. In the morning he’ll go to work at the Trade Secrets fashion outlet in Alexandra Hills.

Outside Dominic’s house, Matt jumps out of the car and farewells the family. Quick as a flash, through the driver’s side window, he squeezes his father on the back of his neck. It’s just something Matt does: a thing, a silly quirk. It drives Paul mad, but he takes it for what it is: a son telling his dad he loves him in a way that doesn’t involve hugging. Matt’s been great lately. He and Paul once fought like cat and dog about school, about chores, about responsibilities – but things changed recently.

Matt’s maturing. He’s becoming a man. He’s seeing the world from points of view other than his own. Driving home, Kay and Paul comment on the evening: “Wasn’t the dinner great. Wasn’t Matty great.

Didn’t he look happy.”

At 10.30pm, Paul watches television. Kay sleeps and Nick plays computer games. The phone rings. Nick answers. It’s a friend of Matt’s. He wants to speak to Paul. He tells Paul that while leaving the birthday party Matt was hurt. He was allegedly assaulted by a 16-year-old boy. He’s unconscious. Paul rushes to the party to find his son surrounded by friends, police and ambulance officers. He rides with Matt in the ambulance to Redlands Community Hospital. The emergency vehicle drives slowly to accommodate Matt’s fragile state. From there he is taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba. Paul follows in a car with Kay and Nick.

It’s almost 1am when the Stanleys are ushered into the hospital’s waiting area. At 2am, the head of the Intensive Care Unit tells Paul and Kay their son has horrendous brain injuries. They are irreversible. He is going to die.

The Stanleys enter the ICU to find Matt in a coma. Paul’s eyes fix on the flashing green lines and numbers on a machine by the bed. He doesn’t know what the numbers mean but they are fl uctuating and that, he figures, must mean there’s life left in his son. At 7.30am, Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence receives her daily phone call from Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson. He informs her of all serious incidents occurring across Queensland in the past 24 hours. He tells her what he knows about the alleged bashing of Matthew Stanley. Spence immediately thinks of her 16-year-old son.

At noon, Paul notices the green numbers have stopped fluctuating. They are constant. A thought enters his mind – “Matty’s gone” – but he keeps his thoughts close and his hope closer.

At 6.15pm, Matt is declared brain dead. The life support system sustains his breathing. Kay and Paul are approached by the Princess Alexandra Hospital’s donor co-ordinator. She is in tears but she has to ask the question: “Is Matthew an organ donor?”

Paul recalls a conversation he had with his son only weeks ago. They were discussing Matt getting his Learner’s Permit on his 16th birthday in January. “Are you going to be an organ donor?” Paul asked. “I will,” Matt said. “If you’re dead, you’re dead. You might as well be doing somebody some good.”

Kay and Paul discuss the possibility of donating Matt’s organs. Nick offers a thought: “If it means other people won’t have to go through what we’re going through, then it’s a good idea.”

Matt is left on life support. Kay and Paul farewell their second child. Walking out the door of the hospital room, Paul takes one final look at his son. Matty is still breathing.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2006

In Gympie, 16-year-old Andrew McNaught fi ghts for his life in hospital after allegedly being assaulted at a weekend party that erupted in violence. Five men aged from 17 to 27 face charges of assault occasioning bodily harm. Despite claims that he was not involved in the violence, McNaught was allegedly struck on the back of the head, sustaining a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2006

Paul Stanley meets Pastor David Groenenboom at Redlands Christian Reformed Church. He needs a place to hold Matt’s funeral. Paul’s eyes scan the cavernous church. “But it might be a bit big here,” he says. “A bit big?” says Groenenboom. “Do you have any idea how popular Matt was?”

Three days later, almost 1000 people attend Matt’s funeral. Paul considers the number of friends he has made while running a modest fl oor-coating business, playing the odd game of touch football and building a family. He’s struck by a thought: “I’d have to die 250 times to have this many people at my funeral.”

Then Kay speaks publicly for the first time: “My heart has broken. It will never mend until I’m back with you.” Paul vows: “I am not going to let this tragedy continue. We as parents, we as citizens, we as children, we have got to stop this rubbish from happening.”

NOVEMBER 20, 2006

On the third day of Schoolies Week, Cavill Mall in Surfers Paradise is alive with school leavers. Friends Terrence Yeoh, 18, and James Collea, 19, are in a 50strong queue to enter a nightclub. “Last night, some guy got bashed in front of our apartment,” says Yeoh. “He was walking along and he just got jumped. I been jumped. Some wogs called me a f..kin’ Asian. I turned around and said, ‘F..k off’.

Then it was, like, bang. We punched on. They all jumped me. I walked away, got heaps of mates, came back, f..ked ’em up. That’s how it is, man.”

Collea interjects: “Here’s the three things that will cause a fight: alcohol, girls and cockiness. If they’re drunk and looking for a fight, they’ll fight. You’ve got to watch yourself. You don’t know if you can fight until you’re in a fight. But you’ll soon find out. And if you can’t fight, you’re f..ked.”

The Schoolies crowd shuffles to the beach, where a DJ works a mixing desk and a rave is under way.

From the balcony of a high-rise apartment, a group of teens crump (dance) to rapper 50 Cent’s Back Down: “It’s easy to see when you look at me, if you look closely, 50 don’t back down / Everywhere I go both coast wit’ toast, eastside, westside, I hold that Mack down / Every little nigger you see around me, hold a gun big enough to hold Shaq down / Next time you in the ’hood and see an ol’ G, you ask about me, the young boy don’t back down.”

On a bench by the beach showers, 17-year-old Jayel from Toowoomba takes a breather on his own. “My mate was in a blue last night,” he says. “Some bloke came up to him and started wiping his bum on him. He told him he was a poofter and [my mate] turned Matty’s shrine … The spot outside the party house at Alexandra Hills where 15-year-old Matthew Stanley was fatally injured. around and hit him. The bloke was drunk. “I remember my after-formal party. We had to get an ambulance. About ten people got put in hospital. Someone threw a bottle at someone else, then two groups of mates jumped in for each person.”

In the mall, the City Beach fashion store is having a “shoe crackdown”. Inside, two teenage males browse the T-shirts on offer. They linger over a black shirt with white block letters reading: “LET THE ASSKICKING COMMENCE”. The rack opposite has Lonsdale boxing-themed shirts reading: “Title Fighting Champion” and “Raging Bulls”.

Outside McDonald’s, 17-year-old Tim from Oxley is concerned about a friend who has been drinking too much. “He’s normally great, but he acts like a dickhead when he’s drunk. He just starts shit for no reason. People get drunk and get angry. The idea of fighting is in the back of their heads. They go to the party knowing they want to have a fight: ‘I’m angry, so I’ll take it out on somebody else’.”

Standing in the centre of the mall, 17-year-old mates “Baby Boy” and “Big Boy” don’t want to make public which Brisbane youth gang they belong to – despite the gang’s initials being tattooed on Baby’s inside wrist. They are, they confess, in one of three rising youth gangs on the city’s west side: UFN (United Family of Nesians), FGS (F..king Goodna Style) or GMF (Goodna Mother F..kers). “Pride, bro’,”

says Baby Boy. “That’s what it is. We can’t run away from it. We cannot let anyone step up to us. If we step down, we’re girls. That’s our culture. No-one steps down to anyone.

“It comes from my parents. My dad would hit me. But that was discipline. That’s the way we were brought up. My dad came up fighting. I have that thing inside me. My dad came up fighting, I want to be a fi ghter too.”

NOVEMBER 23, 2006

Kelvin Grove High School student Julian Henkes, 17, is in a coma in Gold Coast Hospital after allegedly being punched by a 17-year-old labourer in Surfers Paradise when he asked him for a cigarette. Henkes’ parents, Theresa and Stephen, hadn’t wanted their son to go to the Gold Coast during Schoolies Week. They will eventually release a statement saying Julian has “some permanent and irreversible brain damage”.

In Gympie, Andrew McNaught has recovered. He returns to work as an apprentice mechanic.

NOVEMBER 28, 2006

Police Minister Judy Spence prepares for the second meeting of the Youth Violence Taskforce, an initiative announced by Premier Peter Beattie one week after Matthew Stanley’s death. Paul Stanley has been asked to join the taskforce, along with representatives from the departments of Premier and Cabinet, Communities, Health, Justice and Education, as well as victims and their families, youth groups and
teachers. At its first meeting, the taskforce was asked to nominate the top five factors contributing to youth violence. “They’ve identified alcohol as the number one priority,” Spence says, “followed by drugs, peer influences, family dysfunction and anger management. “I was a high school teacher in the ’70s and ’80s I’m sure the level of testosterone hasn’t changed in young males. But we seem to have a generation of young people who are drinking to excess. A lot of that behaviour is to blame for violence.”

But Spence has other questions. Why are victims and perpetrators alike often aged between 15 and 19? Why do offenders often have poor grades at school? If testosterone levels haven’t changed since the ’70s when she was teaching, why are so many altercations leading to serious injury? And what influence can the taskforce have on Liquor Licensing Minister Margaret Keech when she reviews the Liquor Licensing Act in mid-2007?

Across town, Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson asks the same questions. “I’ve been a police offi cer for 38 years,” he says. “From the day I started I have been called out to incidents involving violence. I remember being called out to parties where one bloke has smacked another bloke in the mouth. Now those altercations are leading to people being stabbed.”

He recognises the influence of alcohol and begs parents to monitor their children’s alcohol intake. “There’s misunderstandings [over] the law on alcohol. The law is that you can’t drink in a public place,

no matter what your age is. You can’t drink on licensed premises if you’re under 18. But it is not illegal to drink on private premises if you’re under 18. What we ask for is responsible parental supervision.

“We’re not naive enough to think people under 18 won’t drink alcohol. If parents wish to introduce their kids to alcohol in a progressive and modest and sensible way at, say, 17 years old, then that’s probably a sensible thing. But to have a party with a large group of young people and to have quantities of spirits and full-strength beers readily available, I think, is significant in terms of the consequences that come from that. And the responsibility is not just in the hands of the parents hosting the party. It’s with the parents of the children going to the party.”

Atkinson has other questions. What role do movies play? What about music? Video games? “What bothers me is the idea that gratuitous violence is somehow an appropriate solution to a problem,” he says. “Why has violence, perhaps more so than in the past, been more appropriate than a frank discussion? With much of the violence we see, the origins of it are very minimal. It’s a perceived insult, a perceived slight. It’s the pointlessness of it.”

On Macleay Island, off Victoria Point, 69-year-old Roy Markham has just one question: “Why has it taken the government this long to do something?” His son, Paul Markham, a 23-year-old Gold Coast concreter, was punched on February 13, 2005, after passing out on a bench outside Brisbane’s Embassy Hotel. Moses Katia, a then 18-year-old graduate of St Joseph’s, Gregory Terrace, and a promising member of the school’s first XV rugby team, had drunk up to 15 rum and colas before he and a friend, Matthew La-Chiusa, came upon Markham. After the pair stole Markham’s mobile phone and shoes, Katia was captured on security cameras going back to Markham, who was, by then, urinating against a row of bins. Katia followed Markham to a seat, punched him and stole his watch. Markham died in hospital the following day from severe head injuries.

In April last year, Katia was sentenced to eight years’ jail for manslaughter, with parole recommended after three years. In August, Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo dismissed an appeal by then attorney-general Linda Lavarch, who wanted to increase the sentence to ten years. McMurdo laid blame on a culture of binge-drinking that made “pleasant and amiable people” behave aggressively.
Outside court, Roy Markham blamed the judicial system. “The system is rotten,” he said. “Rotten to the core.” “There are hundreds of parents who have lost their kids,” Markham says today. “It’s been going on for years. The good kids are dying and they’re leaving the ratbags behind.”

NOVEMBER 30, 2006

Paul Stanley fights what his doctor deems a bout of pneumonia. Grief has run him down. He orders a Coke from the bar at the Jubilee Hotel in Bowen Hills. He rubs the bags under his eyes. “Kay’s not doing well,” he says. “Neither am I. I feel there’s a light at the end of the tunnel but right now there’s a bloody big train running through the tunnel.”

Paul’s been busy. He’s created the Matthew Stanley Foundation to help improve safety for young people in Queensland. He’s been liaising with police on the Party Safe program, an initiative that encourages parents to register youth parties with police. Paul’s spent the morning recording a government-sponsored radio commercial for the program. He’s kept himself busy because grief thrives in an idle mind. “The whole thing was so surreal,” he recalls. “That sort of thing doesn’t happen to your child. Even seeing Matthew on life support, I knew he was going to wake up. I was even organising for Kay to go home that night. I thought I could stay the night with Matty and she could come back in the morning when Matty’s woken up.”

Paul’s eyes scan the beer garden. People laugh, friends clink glasses, a young couples play pool. “He was such a good kid. There’s nothing I would have changed about him. Well, there is one thing.” Paul tenses his face to halt the rush of tears.

DECEMBER 8, 2006

Kelvin Grove student Julian Henkes emerges from his coma to communicate with doctors. He doesn’t remember the assault that put him in hospital. “Did I miss Schoolies?” he asks his parents.

DECEMBER 23, 2006

At 7pm, there is a knock on the Stanleys’ door. Paul opens the door to find Pastor David Groenenboom standing there with a six-pack. “Thought you might need a beer,” he says.

CHRISTMAS DAY, 2006

Nick, playing with a lighter he found lying around the house, walks into the loungeroom past an arrangement of dried native flowers dedicated to Matthew. He flicks the flint and an unexpectedly tall flame catches a dried leaf. Kay enters the room in time to throw the burning arrangement outside.

Outside, Nick trembles. “Matty’s flowers,” he says. “They’re Matty’s flowers.” That afternoon, Nick knocks on his father’s bedroom. “Dad, I found another lighter in my room. I don’t think I should have these.” Father and son go to the loungeroom and construct a new floral arrangement for Matty.

JANUARY 15, 2007

The 16-year-old charged over Matthew Stanley’s death Guard of honour is appearing in the Cleveland Children’s Court. Kay is at work in an office furniture store in Fortitude Valley. “Work helps because work isn’t an area Matt had been involved in,” she says. “He’d never been there. You don’t think about anything else but work.”

Home is a minefield of emotional triggers. Songs on the radio, family photos, certain TV shows remind her of Matty. Certain foods. She’s stopped making sandwiches for Nick’s lunch: Matty loved his sandwiches. For now, she gives Nick tuckshop money.

Paul’s not working today. He’s pacing the house thinking of ways to occupy his mind, trying to avoid the triggers: the photos on the wall; Matty’s bedroom, which has remained untouched since his death. He phones Senior Constable Brad Given, the police liaison officer appointed to mediate with the Stanleys. He needs to talk to someone. It’s Given’s rostered day off but he meets Paul at a Cleveland cafe, where the two men chat for four hours.

JANUARY 19, 2007

An 18-year-old is allegedly stabbed by a 15-year-old while waiting for a train at Birkdale Railway Station. He’s rushed to Princess Alexandra Hospital. Two days later, his condition is stable. In Gympie, Andrew McNaught has picked up his daily routines once more, though he is suffering regular headaches. On Thursday, February 8, while waiting for his mother to pick him up from work, he will be assaulted again, this time by two men.

In Kelvin Grove, Julian Henkes is more anxious than ever to complete a sheet-metal apprenticeship.

“God kept me here for a reason,” he tells his mother. “We were lucky,” Theresa Henkes says later. “We were so lucky.”

JANUARY 23, 2007

Matthew Stanley’s birthday. Paul drives to the florist. He takes a detour, calling on David Groenenboom. “Don’t turn today into a day of unhappiness,” stresses Groenenboom. The two men hug. “You do know I’m not religious, David?” says Paul. “I know,” David laughs.

Paul, Kay and Nick drive to the Great Southern Garden of Remembrance on Mt Cotton Road, Carbrook, to be by Matthew’s grave. They leave flowers with him.

The Stanleys have been invited to a birthday party tonight. Friends of Matt’s, twin boys, were also born on this day and they want to share their birthday with Matthew. “I haven’t been looking forward to the party,” Kay says. “They really want me to go, but I’m in two minds about going. I said I would go, but I don’t know now. Paul wants me to go, but if it was left up to me, I wouldn’t go.”

In the afternoon, Paul sits under a palm tree in his back yard sipping a glass of water. The whole world is still. “Kay’s been a basket case most of the day,” he says. “There’s this thing with grief, I’ve read the books about it, they say it can hide away for ten years and just erupt one day or it can be with you forever.

“Every time I hear the gate bang closed I expect it’s going to be Matty. We still haven’t done anything with his room. I’ve decided to turn it into my offi ce. It will be my hideaway. But I don’t know when I will make the decision to go in there and move things. Because it’s Matty’s room … and he might be back. What will I do with his clothes? His books? It’s like that will be the end. I don’t know. All I know is that every day I keep putting it off.” Kay wanders down to the table. She puts her hand on Paul’s shoulder. He smiles, asks Kay if she’s decided to go to the party tonight. She’s undecided. Since this morning, one memory has been playing through Kay’s mind. Not once in the four months since Matthew’s death had the memory

come to her. She didn’t see it coming. It just arrived: 2.20pm, January 23, 1991, and Matthew Stanley is born, seven pounds and 14 ounces of perfection. It plays back, over and over. Play, rewind, play.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Kay says. “Sixteen years and that memory is as clear as day. It hit me when I woke up this morning and I wasn’t ready for it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, crying about it.

“People think I’m getting over it, but it’s been the opposite. I’m feeling everything a lot more than back at the beginning. Before, it felt like I wasn’t in my body. I was over here and that was someone else over there crying. I kept thinking he’d be back. But he hasn’t come back. I’ve started to realise that. He’s not going to be here to smile at anymore.

“I know that now.”

Kay and Paul meander back into the house. On the dining room table they lay out pictures of Matt. They talk about their miracle. Kay pours herself a wine. “I’ll go to the party,” she says. “But I’m not staying long.”

The Stanleys are welcomed into the party with open arms. It is one of 50 teenage parties in the Redlands area – and more than 200 in Brisbane – to be registered with police in the past two months.

Matt’s friends have baked him a birthday cake. There’s music and dancing and balloons and a photograph of Matt surrounded by flowers.

Kay stays for three hours.

Teen Tragedy

Courier-30-Sep