This destroyed many families with young children.
This was the final nail for many families, especially with it happening all around Australia , to the kids who haven’t been to school for over 200 days!.
For those who don’t know me, my name is Matt Fox. I am a husband and, most importantly, I am a father to a 4-year-old boy.
On the 3rd of August this year, I documented, on my Instagram stories @mattycfox, the fact that children’s outdoor playgrounds were shut down, children were not allowed to use them, parents would be fined for doing so. This at a time where you can’t go further than 10km from your home and only for “essential” reasons eg. Medical care, groceries within the 10km radius
Regrettably, I let my frustrations get the best of me and filmed myself putting a “playground closed” sign in the bin, encouraging others to do the same, and advocating for opening up our playgrounds.
In this video, I voiced my frustrations at the fact that my 4-year-old son, and millions of others around Australia, could not use an outdoor playground to get the physical, mental and social stimulation they desperately need in these troubled times, especially when they are not allowed to attend school, kindergarten, daycare, friends’ homes, family members’ homes and, now, playgrounds.
WATCH VIDEO HERE
Due to the actions on the video of throwing away the sign, I had Police turn up at my house at 6 am the following day. I am now facing criminal charges, a criminal conviction, and expensive court appearances. My integrity has been questioned. I was DNA swabbed, fingerprinted, and had a mugshot taken. The sign was returned undamaged and in useable condition.
While I regret and am remorseful of how I handled myself in that moment of throwing away the sign, I had no intention of keeping it. It worthless to me. I was protesting the injustice, protesting because of the pain of watching my own son and his friends crying because they are not allowed to play at the park.
For so many people, my friends, family members, clients, taking their kids to play in the park is the only respite they have. I was protesting the injustice.
But I am now facing the very serious criminal charge of stealing, it carries a maximum 5 year jail term.
I do not regret standing up for the country’s most vulnerable. For the children that have no voice, the children that can’t comprehend why they aren’t allowed to go to school or go to a playground. I felt compelled to take action. In my son’s case, he hasn’t seen his grandparents for over 2 years. Many other Australian children are in a similar situation. As I talk about this, evidence has been presented that in the last week alone – just one single week – kids helpline counselors received over 10 thousand calls for help. The helpline has had to double the number of counselors they have on board.
These innocent Australian children need a sense of normality in this very strange world. I didn’t realize how much of an affect it has on children and me, until I saw my son, running to the playground so excited about one of his favorite times of the day only to be faced with a sign stating “playground closed”. I didn’t realize the effect it had until I had hundreds of messages from fellow parents telling me heartbreaking stories of children talking about hurting themselves because there is no end in sight – I broke down reading these messages.
I am very grateful to have the support and help of my fantastic lawyer and friend, who is also a father to a young boy and a huge advocate for the health and welfare of our children, Mr Rhys Roberts at Roberts Gray Lawyers. I am very grateful to Rhys Roberts at Roberts Gray Lawyers.
Stories of never-ending tragedy is what pushed me over the edge and made me react in the way I did; irrationally filming it and sharing these frustrations on social media.
Whatever your stand is surrounding the current pandemic I am sure we can all agree on the fact that children need to be children. This is the future generation. We should be protecting them and sparing them from the daily realities of what is happening in this country and around the world.
I also want to let you know what brought me to be who I am today and why I have so much passion for both adult's and children’s physical and mental wellbeing.
When I was younger, I stupidly made choices and mistakes because I was selfish and immature- I deeply regret these and think about it even to this day. I embarrassed my family and embarrassed myself. BUT, if it wasn’t for the mistake that I made it wouldn’t have given me the kick in the ass I needed to turn my life around and help to impact others for the better. I could have easily ended up in a very bad place with things spiraling quickly in a dark direction. But I put myself on a path to learn from my mistakes and become the best person I could be for myself and for my family. From there grew my passion to help others better themselves both physically and mentally.
I get no greater joy out of helping my community succeed with their health and fitness goals, it warms my heart. I get no greater joy than seeing the younger generation, my son kicks a ball, run around like crazy, and be what kids should be, be free. I feel it is my obligation to take a stand against the damage and destruction getting inflicted on our children’s health and development. Since when did it become selfish to stand up for your children’s health? so many people have this backward.
This is not about me fighting criminal charges, this is about standing up for our children and people of all ages struggling with mental health, taking a stand for the voiceless, and highlighting how essential playtime is for children and parents alike who are doing it extremely tough and at their wit's end. It’s time to reclaim our given right to walk outside, it’s time to Let Our Children Play - LET US PLAY!
ANY EXCESS ADDITIONAL FUNDS WILL BE PUBLICLY DONATED TO A MENTAL HEALTH CHARITY LIVE ON MY INSTAGRAM CHANNEL @MATTYCFOX
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- kay stewart