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.