South-west students have heard the devastation that one punch can have, from a foundation established by grieving parents following the death of their son.
Pat Cronin,19, died from a coward punch attack while on a night out in 2016. His parents have made it their mission to educate young people about the far-reaching impact senseless violence can have.
"When we reflect back on our journey we don't want anyone to go through what we've gone through," his dad Matt Cronin said. "What happened was nothing short of horrific."
The Melbourne-based organisation, the Pat Cronin Foundation recently visited south-west schools including Emmanuel, Brauer, Terang, Kings and Mortlake p-12 colleges and Cobden Technical School.
Mr Cronin said his son's death was "totally senseless" and something the Eltham family, including mum Robyn, and older siblings Emma, 30, and Lucas, 28, and their wider circle struggled with and was forced to live with every day.
"We've just gone past the sixth anniversary since Pat was killed, which feels like yesterday in many ways and yet a lifetime," Mr Cronin said.
"What's driven us is we want to honour Pat for the kid he was. He was a good kid. He wasn't an angel but he wasn't a trouble maker.
"If anything, he was known to be a bit of a peacekeeper and that's what happened the night he was killed. He was going to help a friend who was being attacked. He was grabbing his mate and trying to get him out of there."
Research has found from 2000 to 2016, there were 127 deaths from single punches and thousands of people hospitalised annually in Australia due to assault.
The foundation focusses on helping young people avoid violence by making wise decisions. This year it aims to reach around 60,000 people in schools and sports clubs.
"We've just got to do it to more and more schools," Mr Cronin said. "It might take a generation to change, like the seatbelt laws or drink driving. We already know we're making a difference," he said.
"We know our message has stopped fights and if you stop a fight there's a potential that you've saved someone's life, because once that punch gets thrown you don't know what's going to happen next.
"People will say Pat was extremely unlucky to be killed, and he was, but the fact is, far too many people are seriously injured or killed due to stupid acts of violence that are totally preventable. They do not have to happen."
He said the images of Pat resonated the most with the students who were only a few years younger than he was, as the teens listening drew parallels of incidents they'd been involved in on the footy field, at a party or on the street.
He said while the "reality is most of the audience we're talking to will probably never throw a punch" it was important to give them strategies to avoid conflict if they were on the receiving end or how to deal with an angry friend who's "prone to throw a punch and stop them doing something stupid".
He said if someone who was 'lightly' punched tripped, hit their head and died, the perpetrator would be up on manslaughter charges and "their life ruined".
"We do focus on the victim, because it's very much Pat's story, but we also speak about the consequences for the offender and how life changing that can be for someone who just thought they were being tough."
Program facilitator Alan Latu has a background in security and emergency management. The respected sports coach and Rugby Victoria board member said the ability to rapidly assess and diffuse a violent situation without resorting to aggression was critical to being a good bouncer and a great life skill to have.
"By providing an understanding of Pat's story as well as offering practical tips and strategies to avoid violence, we hope to reduce these alarming statistics," Mr Latu said. "Through my own experiences I have seen far too many people seriously hurt over what began as a low-level disagreement.
"For me, it's about trying to educate people in how to express their emotions appropriately. That entails being able to identify them in the first place - which is a huge stepping stone, especially for the teenage mind," Mr Latu said.
Emmanuel College student wellbeing co-ordinator Rachele Sloane said the presentations were extremely powerful and demonstrated the real-life consequences of social violence, making a huge impression on students.
"It's an honest conversation that acknowledges emotions such as anger but at the same time demonstrates the importance of dealing with those feelings appropriately." Ms Sloane said.
The foundation's message is one of optimism, rather than based on fear or negativity.
It is a registered charity and they believe the message they're educating the students about is so valuable that the sessions are provided to schools free of charge.
"We have a really simple phrase," Mr Cronin said. "Be wise, think carefully and act kindly'. You do those three things you're never going to throw a coward punch."
He said it was senseless and shouldn't have happened but they couldn't undo it. They could only honour their son who would "always be 19".
"The things we can do, as Pat's mum and dad, is share his story and in years to come people will remember the name Pat Cronin and they'll say 'that's when things started to change in the world' and that's a pretty good thing I reckon," Mr Cronin said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.