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Dunedin campaign to prevent drunken violence

Brad Thorn and Monty Betham join Dunedin campaign to prevent drunken violence

It can take one punch and it’s all over. This is the message being pushed by the Dunedin Police who launched their ‘Just One Punch’ education campaign this week, in collaboration with Otago Polytechnic, the University of Otago, DCC and ACC.

Now two of New Zealand’s sporting elite, Brad Thorn and Monty Betham, have come on board as advocates of the campaign, targeted at high school and university students.

“Over the past few years, Dunedin has had a small number of high profile incidents where a victim has been killed by just one punch,” says Dunedin Police Constable Shelley Phair, who initiated the campaign.

“To have two renowned and respected athletes backing this campaign will help raise the profile of this serious issue, significantly.”

Dunedin Police are aiming to highlight the link between alcohol and assault and provide education and awareness around this problem. “Our goal is to strengthen young people’s ability to make positive choices and decisions when dealing with these situations,” says Constable Phair.

A local and collaborative effort; students and staff from Otago Polytechnic and Otago University have been working on the campaign for the last 12 months.

“This project focused on a fusion of anti-violence and excessive drinking. As a group we decided to tell a story which, depending on your choices, would escalate further in seriousness,” says Madison Henry-Ryan, an Otago Polytechnic graduate who worked on the campaign. “I think young people will relate to the material because we designed it to appeal to our youth demographic.”

As part of the campaign, a DVD produced as a community project by TVNZ highlighting the social issue affecting victims, offenders and their families, is being shown to Dunedin high school pupils. There is also an interactive film that features on the ‘Just One Punch’ website, which tracks a young man on a night out, trying to get home to his girlfriend. The film presents a number of different scenarios and allows users to make choices throughout.

“The interactive film provides an opportunity for users to see the consequences of their choices,” says Constable Phair. “If you choose the right path, you get home safe. If you choose the alternative, the consequences demonstrate how quickly a senseless act of violence can change your life.”

ACC Community Injury Prevention consultant Andy Redfearn says it is the consequences that are often overlooked in these situations.

“This campaign is all about educating the public about where you could end up for throwing a punch. It’s unlikely you’re a ‘bad’ person intending to inflict hurt on another human; just someone under the influence of alcohol who isn’t thinking straight.

“We know that alcohol has an impact - we see it all too often in our claims.”

The campaign is being launched in the Southern District, with the intention of being picked up nationally when the teaching resource is complete.

The Dunedin Police would like to thank the following organisations for their support:

§ Otago Polytechnic
§ The University of Otago
§ Otago University Students’ Association
§ Dunedin City Council
§ Highlanders
§ Newsplash Studio
§ Otago Corrections
§ Southern District Health Board

View the Just One Punch website here.


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