Every member of our presentation team brings their own personal story and perspective to their presentations, as well as passion and commitment to delivering the Foundation’s message.
The first presenter to join the Foundation in 2019, Ben, is much loved by the schools and clubs he attends. Ben, a surviving victim of a Coward Punch attack, expertly shares stories of victims and perpetrators of violence and offers students alternative perspectives and approaches to this issue. Ben’s words always leave everyone who is fortunate enough to see him present feeling touched and changed.
Ben has been presenting violence prevention workshops in high schools and sports clubs since 2014. Over the course of that time, he has delivered over 500 sessions to over 45,000 young people.
Ben works as a facilitator for The Man Cave outside of the Pat Cronin Foundation, delivering emotional intelligence and healthy masculinity workshops to young men in high schools. Ben is father to two beautiful children, Maeve and Peggy. He’s also an avid social footy player, and he credits his dog Pam with assisting him in getting up early each morning to face the day.
As a surviving victim of a coward punch in 2007, I have been compelled to share my story as well as other victims of violence. I want to help other young people avoid a similar fate by knowing what happened to Pat and to understand the devastating impact his death has had on a community of people.
John Linn JP
John is a military veteran with 25 years of experience in security and risk management, including work as a licenced security consultant and security advisor in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia Pacific. All of this to say, John is an expert in security and risk management, and he brings this expert knowledge to his work with the Pat Cronin Foundation.
John not only shares the Be Wise message but also discusses how to spot risks and gives ideas and tips for staying safe and stopping violence in the community.
John is a hands-on volunteer who likes to help and support everyone in the community. In 2007, the State of Victoria made him a Justice of the Peace.
I want to help people and will always willingly participate in any practical way possible to help keep people safe. We all have a personal responsibility to ensure that we denounce violence of any kind and do our utmost to help keep the community safe.
Steve is a highly regarded member of the Pat Cronin Foundation team. He is a career firefighter with 31 years of experience, an ambassador for White Ribbon Australia, and an advocate for women’s health and safety, as well as the prevention of violence against women.
Steve’s background in anti-violence education and training, as well as his work in the community, make him a knowledgeable and skilled speaker for the Foundation’s Be Wise message.
Steve and his family have known the Cronin’s for decades, and Steve’s involvement with the Foundation is his way of reducing, if not eliminating, the risk of more deaths due to intentional acts of violence.
At home, he is a busy grandad who devotes much of his time to discussing gender equality, modelling respectful relationships, managing his own mental health, and listening to good music.
As a firefighter of 31 years, I have seen the best and worst of humanity, and the worst is usually by the hand of “some” men. I have dedicated much of the last 20 years to the prevention of gendered violence, and I’m acutely aware that whilst most of that work has been in the prevention of violence against women, men are in fact victims of violence and perpetrators of violence in numbers that are off the charts.
Peter, a highly trained and skilled presenter, spends a significant amount of time educating AustralianSuper members on the superannuation and age pension systems. But it’s not just his speaking skills that make him a valuable member of the Pat Cronin Foundation’s presenting team.
As a family friend of the Cronin’s for over 45 years, he witnessed the impact of Pat’s death firsthand, as well as the ripple effect of the cowardly attack throughout the community. Peter’s personal connection to Pat’s story gives him a unique and powerful perspective, which he shares when he speaks on behalf of the Foundation with skill and passion.
Matt and I were talking on the phone on the Thursday before Pat’s death, discussing how it would be the first time that he and Lucas would be playing in the seniors together. The connection I have with the Cronin family has meant that I have followed their tragic journey over the years, and I am keen to help them make the Foundation successful.
A down to earth young man with an incredible voice, Hayden’s background in entertaining, singing and acting make him an engaging presenter of the Foundation’s Be Wise message. Hayden is a close family friend of the Cronin’s and has emceed for the Foundation’s Walk to the Valley events for years and brings warmth, humour, and passion to everything that he does.
When he isn’t entertaining audiences with his voice and talents, Hayden works in sales, participates in social sports, and creates YouTube videos.
Being close family friends with the Cronin’s, I want to help grow the foundation and spread the ‘Be Wise’ message that we all stand for.
Confident, friendly and engaging, Patrick was a close friend of Pat’s who brings his perspective as a young person who lost a mate to violence to the Foundation’s Be Wise awareness presentations for Sporting Clubs and Community Groups.
A passionate social footballer who plays for the Eltham Panthers, Patrick has an intimate knowledge of sporting club culture. A laid back guy, he also enjoys fishing and hanging out with mates, and he has a degree in Wildlife and Conservation Biology.
Joining the foundation is an opportunity to extract some positivity out of a tragic event. I hope that by sharing my experience and Pat’s story we can make a real difference in the attitudes of people and contribute towards a safer society for everyone.”
Nick, who is caring, laid-back, and friendly, brings passion and a personal touch to delivering the Foundation’s Be Wise message. Pat’s high school friend, Nick, was deeply affected by his death, and it’s impossible not to feel the depth of emotion he brings to his presentations.
Nick also works at Dorevitch Pathology and, like most of the Foundation team, loves his sport. He enjoys travelling and is a huge fan of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.
As a close friend of Pat’s in high school, the issue of social violence is one that is close to my heart. So, it is important to me, as well as a massive privilege, to be able to present Be Wise sessions for the foundation and make a difference in this field.
Alan is a seasoned public speaker, a respected sports coach, and an invaluable member of the Pat Cronin Foundation team.
He is deeply committed to teaching young people to think before impulsively acting on emotions, including anger. And, like all our speakers, he offers a distinct and valuable perspective to the role.
With a natural aptitude for coaching and mentoring, Alan is the Director of Rugby at Xavier College in Kew, Melbourne, and was recently appointed to the Board of Rugby Victoria. In addition, he has 400 games of rugby experience, five Dewar Shield Premierships and a stint in Spain.
“The work of the foundation in educating young people about the dangers of social violence – as well as the Coward Punch – aligns with my own strongly-held beliefs.“
Gail Ackroyd, a school chaplain, is the Foundation’s first female Be Wise education presenter, and we were delighted to welcome her in 2022.
Gail’s experience includes counselling in the juvenile justice system as well as working for a non-profit mental health and wellbeing organisation that provides quality education sessions in sports clubs, workplaces, and schools.
Her Be Wise sessions are compassionate and informative, and they have been extremely well received by all who have attended.
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.
With a background in education and assisting students with special needs, Aidan is a natural when it comes to engaging with young people in a classroom setting. Passionate about the Foundation and challenging “skewed ideals of masculinity”, he is of the firm belief that a significant shift in attitudes to violence is entirely possible by connecting with the current generation.
In his spare time, Aidan is also a keen scholar, history buff and artist, with an intense interest in the history of Australia’s bushrangers and the paths that led them to a life of violent crime. He curates a website on the topic, showcasing years of research, and has been closely involved in several books.
“Challenging stereotypes about masculinity and what it means to be ‘tough’, as well as entrenched beliefs relating to violence as the way to sort out problems, is important work. I believe the current generation of young people is receptive right now to change and new ideals.”
Peter joined the Be Wise team in 2022 as an educational presenter, and he brings a wealth of first-hand experience to our rapidly expanding program in schools and clubs across the state.
Peter was awarded the Victoria Police Star in 2001 in recognition of the serious injuries he sustained during a 19-hour standoff in Kangaroo Flat on October 1, 1999. While that night will never be forgotten, the 62-year-old has found new purpose with the Pat Cronin Foundation, a cause close to his heart.
Peter also has extensive experience working with youth, having worked closely with the Bendigo Children’s Court on a variety of programs.
Peter’s extensive experience in violence prevention makes him an invaluable member of the Pat Cronin Foundation team.
I’ve handled many cases of assault, as well as similar incidents to that involving Pat. The toll on others can be heartbreaking, and one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do is inform parents that their child has passed away. I can only imagine what it must have felt like for the Cronin’s.
Warren recently transitioned away from the financial services industry after a 20-year career, the last 5 of which he spent working with Matt Cronin at his financial planning practice.
Warren’s son Kane played football and cricket against Pat from age 10 to senior football, so the loss of Pat was very close to home for the Richards family. Warren’s personal connection to the Cronin family adds emotion and authenticity to his presentations, which always resonates with his audience.
Always actively involved in local sporting clubs—being a Life Member of the Greensborough Junior Football Club and Lower Eltham Cricket Club, Warren and his family have enjoyed countless seasons of active involvement both on and off the field, which has led to many close lifelong friendships.
“Having the opportunity to help educate people on the importance of striving to End the Coward Punch is a great honour and something I am most passionate about.”
Neil is a passionate presenter with extensive coaching and playing experience in the AFL community. Neil’s knowledge and personality fit perfectly within the team, and he is a valuable member of the Foundation.
Neil was captain of Collingwood’s under-19 team, won a VFL premiership with Werribee, won NFNL premierships with both North Heidelberg and Bundoora, played for the team that won the Victorian Championships, and won RDFL premierships with Riddell.
Neil has previously held the positions of North Melbourne Development Coach, Northern Knights Head Coach (2005 NAB League, Coach of the Year), and Bundoora (NFNL), where he was named the AFCA Northern Region Senior Coach of the Year in 2001. Neil previously spent 16 seasons at North Melbourne Football Club, where he held the important position of Player Development Manager in later years.
Neil is currently the Head of Football at Camberwell Grammar School and lives on the same street as the Cronin family.
“Living on the same street as the Cronin family, I know the impact this tragedy had on the community. I want to help the foundation educate people so we can all feel safe out in the community and no other family must experience what the Cronin family went through.”