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."

Former rugby league international star Steve Renouf is the ambassador for APN's #HandsOff campaign to tackle violence on our streets.
Former rugby league international star Steve Renouf is the ambassador for APN's #HandsOff campaign to tackle violence on our streets. David Stuart

 

Battle of the booze

IT'S time to take back control of the streets from drunken thugs.

In February, the New South Wales Government rolled out a suite of laws and measures to reduce the problem. The move follows a number of shocking booze-related crimes across NSW over the past few years.

On New Year's Eve in 2013, 18-year-old Daniel Christie died in Sydney after being punched in the head. The incident happened close to where Thomas Kelly was fatally punched in 2012.

These are just two of the shocking cases that highlighted the need for the community to take action.

The Lismore and Grafton regions are not immune to the problems of late-night alcohol-related problems.

Coffs-Clarence crime manager, Detective Inspector Darren Jameson said drunks must take responsibility for their behaviour.

"It is no longer acceptable for you to say that 'they gave me the alcohol'," he said.

"You picked up the glass, you put the drink to your mouth and you swallowed; you made a conscious decision to do that to excess.

"You are responsible for your behaviour and actions and we will take action (against violent behaviour) very strongly."

Richmond Valley Mayor Ernie Bennett said: "There's some sections of the community (that) continually have alcohol issues around town - drinking in alcohol-free areas and being a general nuisance - in the same way that abusers of drugs have an effect on other sections of the community."

Grafton Mayor Richie Williamson said a comm

unity-wide approach was a step in the right direction.

"Alcohol-related violence is an issue and it's everyone's responsibility."

 

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.

SHARE YOUR STORY

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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