It’s not every day that AFL players mix with the likes of rugby, basketball and netball players but today that’s exactly what happened as local NT sporting stars and clubs came together to support a good cause.
NT Thunder champion player Cameron Ilett and head coach Andrew Hodges were on-hand with their sporting counterparts for the 2017 Darwin launch of the Lace Up campaign.
The Lace Up campaign is an initiative of Step Back Think and has been running for five years, with proud representation in the NT by the campaign’s patron, David Hardy.
Mr Hardy is committed to stamping out violence in the local community after his son Joshua was the victim of an unprovoked attack in Melbourne in 2014.
The Social Violence Register compiled by Step Back Think found that social violence killed 20 Australians in 2016.
Of the victims, 55% were aged under 30, 70% of deaths occurred between Friday and Sunday and all victims, and known perpetrators were men.
“Already this year 13 Australians have lost their lives to social violence, which is 13 too many. It’s our responsibility to get the conversation started and to raise awareness of the devastating impact these situations have,” Mr Hardy said.
This weekend sports clubs across Australia from local teams right through to the elite level will be wearing orange shoe laces to raise awareness of social violence, which includes one-punch assaults and street fights.
This is NT Thunder’s second year supporting the program, with the Hardy family well known to the club and the wider AFL community in the Top End.
Due to Thunder’s bye round in the NEAFL this weekend, the players will be wearing the campaign’s signature orange boot laces during training and will lace up against Aspley for Round 21 on Saturday 19 August.
Hodges said he had seen social violence first-hand and it was a conversation he was keen for Thunder players to have.
“We have probably all been in situations where violence can occur but we have a choice and what I like about the campaign is that it’s reminding people to step back and think before they act,” he said.
To support anti-violence education run by Step Back Think visit www.stepbackthink.org to donate.