2022 our biggest year yet

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Side profile of five people and the Pat Cronin Foundation’s Be Wise mascot

2022 promises to be the biggest year yet for the Pat Cronin Foundation, with the first of our free Be Wise school presentations kickstarting a busy calendar.

Hot on the heels of the launch of our Be Wise app – which will be promoted at all of our educational sessions – we’ve also just signed two $50,000 sponsorship deals as part of our plan to extend the program throughout the state and beyond.   

The assistance from ever-consistent supporters Barry Plant Real Estate  and Le Pine Funerals  will allow us to reach more students than ever before – in excess of 60,000 this year alone – and help drive our ambitious mission to equip all young Australians with the tools to say no to violence.

In addition, we’ve engaged two new schools presenters – Steve O’Malley and Gail Ackroyd – who will each bring a fresh perspective to the program.     

In fact, Steve was on hand this month to kick off our 2022 Be Wise school education program, speaking to more than 120 Year 11 and 12 students at Melbourne’s Eltham College in a special online session.

A firefighter with extensive experience in anti-violence education  

Steve, a highly respected associate with Gender and Disaster Australia, is also a career firefighter with 31 years of experience and has as an extensive background in anti-violence education particularly in the context of disasters, including the COVID 19 pandemic.

As well, he has a deep, personal connection with the Cronin family spanning more than 18 years. His son Callum and Pat began a friendship as primary school Preps and later played football together.

portrait shot of two young boys, looking to camera

Steve also helped fill in for the family in early media interviews in the hours after Pat’s attack, and is looking forward to playing a key role in spreading our message this year. 

“I have spoken about the prevention of violence for more than a decade and the circumstances of Pat’s death are sadly more common than any of us had contemplated,” said Steve.

“Education is fundamental to facilitating a generational shift in stereotypes about masculinity and violence – and I believe right now we have an opportunity to make serious inroads through the PCF programs,” said Steve.

Steve’s involvement in anti-violence education began in 2008, when he was selected to be part of a VicHealth taskforce developing a two-day short course into the prevention of violence against women. He has also spoken on behalf of Gender and Disaster Australia and White Ribbon at countless conferences and workplace events.  

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge of this year,’’ he said. “As we all know, the Pat Cronin Foundation talks are extremely powerful and are all about empowering young people as well as equipping them with practical tips and advice.”

A chaplain and a passion for helping young people    

School chaplain Gail Ackroyd is the Foundation’s first female Be Wise education presenter and is excited to be starting her new role in February.

“I don’t describe myself as a public speaker but I’m passionate about helping young people. It’s the most rewarding aspect of being a chaplain,” said Gail.

“I think young people can sniff out whether you care or not and that’s what’s important. 

“To say it’s a privilege to be presenting the education sessions doesn’t seem to be the right word. I’ve been entrusted to share a little bit of Pat’s story as well as helping students think about the impacts of certain actions and how it can affect lives forever.

“Adolescence is the time to make mistakes, but for some these years can be real turning points.”

Gail’s background includes counselling within the juvenile justice system as well as working within a not-for profit mental health and wellbeing organisation delivering quality education sessions into sports clubs, workplaces and schools. 

The Pat Cronin Foundation is dedicated to empowering young people never to use violence.  For more tips, book one of our informative educational sessions – free and specially designed for schools, sports clubs and community organisations. Book here or email us at info@patcroninfoundation.org.au Be wise. Think carefully. Act kindly.

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