Topics: Morrison Government funding for Stop the Coward Punch campaign
VINCE CONNELLY: As a father myself, and I’m sure all parents would be in exactly the same boat, it would be a dreadful nightmare for any of our children to be involved in some of these terrible assaults. But, sadly, this is the reality. We do see these types of incidents occur, and that’s why it’s incredible that Danny Green, Justin and Wayne here, have initiated the Stop the Coward Punch campaign. It’s a wonderful community initiative and it is also one that our Federal Government is absolutely supportive of. On that note, I would like to introduce Minister Karen Andrews, the Minister for Home Affairs, who is also passionate about this important topic.
KAREN ANDREWS: Thank you very much, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be here with you today. Vince has been a colleague of mine, a very valued colleague of mine, for some time, so it’s a pleasure to be here with you today as the Liberal for Cowan as we announce $1 million in funding for this very, very worthwhile organisation, Stop the Coward Punch. Over the years, many of us have heard about the serious damage and deaths that can come from the coward’s punch, and thanks to the great work of Danny Green and the team here, we have been able to highlight how significant that coward punch can be and the lifelong effects it can have on members of our community. Now, the funding today of $1 million comes from proceeds of crime, and this is the Morrison Government taking money off the bad guys and giving it to the good guys, and I really love that about the proceeds of crime funding, because we, as a government, want to make sure that we are taking assets off the criminals and putting that money to good use. And, of course, one of the beneficiaries today is this fabulous organisation – Stop the Coward Punch. They have done some amazing work in the community and I know that this million dollars in funding will go towards them, continuing to work with our communities to make sure that they do everything that they possibly can to stop the coward’s punch. So, it’s a pleasure for me to be able to introduce Danny Green who is on the screen behind me so I’ll just step to the side and pass over to you, Danny, who may well have frozen right at this second.
DANNY GREEN: Hello, and thank you very much, Minister. That was a warm introduction. Firstly, I would just like to say thank you to the Minister and everyone in attendance for coming today. It’s Justin Manolikos has been instrumental in the coward punch campaign by my side since 2012 [indistinct] members on the board. There’s a whole heap of people who are on the board, excuse me, that are in communities that we do fundraising for to raise money for the campaign that have been so, I guess so selfless and in their time and their efforts and their resources and in contacts and networking to try and help the campaign [indistinct] to save more lives. So, it is a momentous occasion for the campaign today to have the Federal Government grant $1 million over x amount of years, which is going to help the campaign save a lot more lives and we’re just so grateful for that. But it enables us now to dig deeper into research that’s been taken on from Victoria Institute of Forensic Medicine. They’re a massive world‑breaking piece of research that gave us an indication into the perpetrators, the victims, why it’s happening, where it’s happen et cetera. So, it gives us the ability to then educate the young people in the schools. A man by the name of Jason Kimberley who [indistinct]. His family were instrumental in getting the Sydney Swans football team up in Sydney into the AFL culture, very clever guy. He’s got a system in schools called Cool Australia where if you tag along, teachers are able to educate kids on certain subjects that they want to. And so with Cool Australia, we’ve implemented the coward punch campaign into the curriculum, into the youth, particularly young adult guys we want to reach, and so far that is 16,000 children have been reached in six weeks in the first term of school, which is an incredible result and which this funding has enabled us to then fund more programs within Cool Australia to continue research into survivors, into perpetrators, which is only going to enhance the curriculum projects that go along with that and enable us to facilitate more education into the system, teaching these young kids about why they shouldn’t be doing this. The coward punch is, obviously, a horrendous thing for anyone to receive or to do. So, there’s a lot of work to do, but we know that in 10 years to have the curriculum and to have the vernacular in society change where now people term these horrendous and gutless assaults as a coward punch, it’s a massive step forward.
JOURNALIST: This is confirmed funding, it’s not an election promise?
KAREN ANDREWS: This is confirmed funding that’s being granted today to Stop the Coward Punch, so it’s confirmed funding commitment.
JOURNALIST: Can we get some from Green as well?
JOURNALIST: Hi, Danny, I’m from The West. Just a couple of questions. What do you think about the recent spate of violence in the CBD and Northbridge?
KAREN ANDREWS: He’ll be back in a sec.
DANNY GREEN: [Indistinct] People are highlighting these incidents [indistinct] to the public and showing on their iPhones and CCTV footage, it means that it’s getting more difficult for perpetrators to escape or get away with these horrendous incidents. So people say, is it working, is the coward punch working? Well it’s absolutely working because the piece of research that I [indistinct] Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine shows the decline in deaths from cowards punch in 2012 to 2018 – that’s where the research ends. So, we know that it’s working and the fact that it’s been highlighted more, it’s not a positive, but it shows us that everyone is awake to it and everyone is aware what’s going on and we all want to see it stop.
JOURNALIST: And do you think Danny Hodgson’s attacker’s sentence was too soft?
DANNY GREEN: It’s difficult for me to comment, but we all feel the same way. Yeah, the kid was out on bail, apparently. I’m not going to comment on the case itself because I don’t know the legalities around it, but when you read the paper and see what’s going on and basic two years for horrendous assault on that poor man, for nothing, it is – it doesn’t send a very strong message and it doesn’t make the community feel safe, so I believe that the constitution needs to change from the very stop. The police are doing all the hard work. They do all the heavy‑lifting and legwork to bring the perpetrators to the courts and, unfortunately, the courts are giving these people a slap on the wrist. It doesn’t send a very strong message to us in the community.
JOURNALIST: Danny, it’s Amber from Seven News. I guess on that topic, there, following the death of Giuseppe Raco, the coward’s collar campaign was launched, pushing for a 10‑year minimum sentence. Is that something that you’re in favour of?
DANNY GREEN: Look, I’m not going to go into sentencing and it’s not really my – it’s not what the coward punch campaign is about. The coward punch campaign is about spreading awareness and getting to as many people to know about this, about the coward punch campaign, as we can. So, within, excuse me, like I’ve maintained, the Quit Smoking campaign, the drink‑driving campaigns, the Slip, Slop, Slap campaigns, the Government poured millions of dollars over four decades into those issues and people are still passing away from those issues unfortunately. So, the cowards punch campaign is in many ways similar. I just want to get the message out there to as many people and educate as many young people as we possibly can, and I will leave the sentencing and the harder kind of topics as far as harder penalties et cetera to people above me. It’s above my pay rate, unfortunately.
JOURNALIST: And you’ve already touched on this, but in regards to the exactly what the money will be spent on, can you just explain, yeah, how it will be distributed among the campaign?
DANNY GREEN: It will be over extended years, so it’s over four years, the grant. It’ll be – the TV – the community service announcements that we’ve had as TV commercials have been national, have been incredibly impacting. Marty Wilson has done an incredible job on this advertising since 2012 and he does it on a shoestring. So, people must understand that the money that’s received by the campaign, everything is spent – every cent is absolutely chewed up in the right area. So, to continue the TV campaigns … [indistinct] just the [indistinct] alone, the coward punch campaign message so as many people know about it as they can. Obviously, research into the schools [indistinct] programs and allow us to go further into the research of perpetrators and to the victims of the coward punches [indistinct]. So, another piece of research will be done in the near future. So, there’s a lot of things that money will be spent on, and that million dollars is going to go a long way to saving lives in our community.
JOURNALIST: Just out of interest, how does – I don’t know if you have any figures on this – but how does WA fare compared to other states in terms of one‑punch attacks?
DANNY GREEN: You’ve called me there! That’s not a statistic I have off the top of my head, unfortunately.
SPEAKER: The research is done on a national level, so it didn’t have a state‑to‑state breakdown to be honest.
JOURNALISIT: No dramas, thank you.
DANNY GREEN: But the research shows that without doubt the decline in the number of deaths in coward punch is proof that the coward punch campaign has had massive resonance already.
JOURNALIST: I’m going to jump in as well. It’s Jess from Ten News here. Just on that, I think you mentioned before, but I might have missed it, just the statistics on the reduction in the number of coward punch attacks, sort of, as a result of this campaign? Are there figures on that?
DANNY GREEN: Once again there are figures on that. Yes, we have the figures, but I don’t know them off the top of my head exactly [indistinct]. They are marked on, as I said, on a world‑first groundbreaking piece of research that delved very deep into why people are doing it, the areas that people are doing it, where they come from, you know, what the reasons are, and also the victims, where were the victims, what were the victims doing. So, trying to really dig deep on why these coward punch incidents are happening. And within that research it showed that the numbers since 2012 to 2018, I guess from coward punches have declined. So for us that’s a massive shot in the arm for us to continue forward and to march forward, and it just gives everyone who works on the coward punch campaign – there are so many people who have worked on it – a lot of confidence to move forward and, you know, it’s reassuring to know that the number of deaths from these incidents are reduced.
KAREN ANDREWS: I might just add to that, with the statistic that since 2000, 172 Australians have lost their lives to the coward’s punch. Countless others have been injured, including many who have been seriously injured.
DANNY GREEN: I think that’s a very important point, Minister. Thank you for making that point and giving the statistics, because what people may not realise is that the amount of people who are injured, so that the weight that this puts on the health system, with people who are seriously injured and debilitated for the rest of their lives, have to be careful 24 hours a day, they have tubes keeping them alive and feeding them – it’s just horrendous.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask –
DANNY GREEN: You’re talking about deaths in 2000 [indistinct] road deaths, not the deaths from other incidents, but the amount of people who are seriously injured and maimed forever going forward places a massive cost on our health system is a statistic that isn’t really out there, but we want to get out more often, because it’s a massive problem within our community and this money is going to go a long way to – it won’t eradicate it, but it’s going to go a long way to reducing that incidence.
JOURNALIST: I was going to say, this funding is fantastic, especially in terms of a preventive measure, but as we mentioned we are seeing perpetrators get slapped with two years’ imprisonment for almost ending someone’s life; is that good enough?
KAREN ANDREWS: We, as a Federal Government, have taken crime particularly seriously, so the Morrison Government has made some significant changes to a lot of the legislation. Now, in relation to state policing matters, I would leave that to the relevant states to comment on that. But we have recently passed legislation through the Parliament that makes mandatory sentencing a reality for people, and organisations, who traffic in firearms illegally. So, we will, as a Government, take strong action in relation to commonwealth offences. But everyone, every single person in Australia is concerned about the increase in crime on our streets. As a Federal Government, we’ll focus on the commonwealth issues that deal with illegal importations of firearms, of weapons, of drugs. We’ll concentrate on those, but we would encourage our state and territory governments to look closely at their relevant policing laws and to look at making sure that there are proper penalties in place for those people who commit these hideous crimes.
JOURNALIST: Would you urge the state governments to sort of send a stronger message in the courts?
KAREN ANDREWS: A very strong message does need to be sent to the crims to make sure that they understand that this is a not a matter that is taken lightly, hopefully by any government. Definitely. It’s not a matter that is taken lightly by the Morrison Government, that’s why we have provided a million dollars in funding to this organisation, Stop the Coward Punch. We know that this is a serious issue with 172 Australians having lost their lives and countless more having been seriously injured or injured through this action. So, I would encourage all states and territories to look closely at their legislation and take the action that’s necessary. As a Federal Government, the Morrison Government is making sure that we are doing everything we can to keep Australians safe and secure. Thank you.