FORMER Brisbane Broncos rugby league international Steve Renouf could easily have been a coward punch statistic.
But that's not why the player, known to fans as Pearl, displayed the same lightning speed to be the face of APN's #Hands Off campaign, as he did when scoring breathtaking tries for Brisbane, Queensland and Australia.
It's because he wants his five children to be able to enjoy a night out with friends without constantly worrying about them becoming victims of an alarming increase in late-night violence. The statistics have also prompted the Qld Government to kick-off a $44 million, four-year Safe Night Out initiative to combat the disturbing trend.
Renouf had his jaw shattered by a king hit punch while visiting his mother in Murgon in 1993.
The ugly incident is a constant reminder to him of how lucky he was not to have suffered a far more serious injury.
"When you look at a king hit or whatever you want to call it, there's never a good ending," Renouf told APN, before fronting its #Hands Off campaign.
"I was one of the lucky ones. I ended up with a double fracture of the jaw but we all know they can end up a lot different."
Renouf said his sons and his 18-year-old daughter liked to go out with friends and as a parent he always worried about their safety.
"You never, ever want that phone call," he said.
"The normal comeback from a young kids is, 'dad, we don't go looking for trouble'.
"But it's not them I am worried about. It's other people around them who are fuelled by alcohol.
"Things happen, that's the society we live in these days, so you have to be careful and vigilant."
Renouf said everyone had either seen or heard tragic stories of the damage one punch caused and the pain it inflicted on families.
"That's real," he said.
He admitted, as a player, he went out drinking at night with team-mates many times and had witnessed a lot of incidents, including efforts by members of the public to make a name for themselves by hassling footballers and other high profile sports people.
"There's nothing wrong with walking away, there really isn't," he said.
"To king hit someone when they are not looking or not expecting it, that's the lowest act possible.
"So the message is very clear: 'hands off' males, females, everyone... there's no need to be attacking anyone."
Battle of the booze
IT'S TIME to end the reign of drunken thugs.
In October, the Queensland Government's $44 million four-year Safe Night Out Strategy kicked off.
The move followed several shocking booze-related crimes across the state.
In February, the Sunshine Coast was rocked after Bruce Steensen was killed in a random attack in Mooloolaba.
Less than three months before, Wayne Dover was fatally bashed in Maroochydore.
Qld Homicide Victims' Support Group general manager, Ross Thompson, said he had no idea how to get the anti-violence message across to some people.
"We look at this current generation - the ones that are going out there clubbing now - as the throwaway generation," he said.
"They have their own attitude and that's the part we can't change."
Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon said police would focus on drunken assaults as the state headed toward the busy Christmas-New Year holiday period.
"The reality is, as more people come to our entertainment environments through tourism and holiday-makers, you're going to see an increased consumption of alcohol, but undoubtedly there will be individuals who want to create behaviour that we won't tolerate and neither will the community," he said.
University of Qld Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre director, Professor Jake Najman, said something had to be done about drinking and violence.
"Alcohol-related violence is a major problem - and we've ignored it for a very long period of time," Prof Najman said.
"The estimate at the moment is perhaps that 50-70% of all police time is involved with dealing with alcohol and related other incidents.
"A substantial proportion of all hospital emergency department visits involve a significant number of people who are injured or have had things happen to them that are a consequence of using alcohol," he said.
Be a part of the #HandsOff Promise
We will also celebrate those who step up and take the #handsoff Promise.
And that's where you come in.
By taking the promise, you pledge:
• Not to participate in, or condone by being silent, any form of street or late-night violence; and
• To report any incidents of such violence to the relevant establishment and authorities
It's easy to do - just visit http://bit.ly/saynotoviolence and follow the steps.
Have you, your family or friends been affected by violence? We would love you to share your story.
Your story is the most powerful way to bring about change. You can share your story easily here, on our website, via our Share Your Story page.
If you want you could also make a short YouTube video telling your story and why you support the #HandsOff campaign. Just remember to send us the link so we can share it with others.
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