An Interview with Matt Cronin

Words by Krista, MSA Welfare Office Bearer


When I think about wellness, I think about meditation, journal writing, yoga. Taking regular breaks, eating well. And sure I’ll think about some more social aspects, like hanging out with friends, being a part of a sports team or a volunteering group. 


But sometimes we can do all of these things, nail that perfect lifestyle-balance – and out of nowhere, it can all be taken from us. 


That’s what happened to Pat Cronin on the 16th of April 2016. He was a university student just like us, and went out on a Saturday night just like we do. But he “never came home”

after his night out. 


I had the privilege of speaking with Matt Cronin, Founding Director of the Pat Cronin Foundation and Pat’s father. 


Pat went “out for a quiet Saturday night.. [to a] Diamond Creek bar.” Matt was ”happy [Pat] wasn’t going to King St or Chapel St” – nightlife spots notorious for drunken violence. Out of nowhere a fight broke out between one of Pat’s mates and another group of people. 


“We raised our children to always look after their mates,” Matt explained. “Don’t add fuel to the fire, grab [your mates] and drag them away.” He was doing what anyone of us would do, trying to get his mates out of the fight. Pat didn’t “go into that situation thinking someone would hit [him] from behind.” Sadly he “paid the ultimate sacrifice.”


“Pat had no chance to defend himself” against this “coward punch.”  The “coward who hit Pat wasn’t involved” in the fight; he just wanted to “get his excitement [from fighting]…from someone who was unable to defend himself. 


“Often the person who gets hit gets knocked out or hits their head on the ground…in Pat’s case he didn’t.” “He was walking and talking” as if everything was okay. A few hours later Pat was being “carried down the steps [of his mate’s house]…unconscious.” They didn’t realise Pat “was having a seizure at the time.”


“Two days later we turned his life support off.”


“Pat’s anniversary is the 16th of April.” Matt said it will be “seven years since we last saw him.” “We’ve got three children…, if Pat was still here, he’d be 26.”


Pat was a “smart kid” studying his “second year of health science” on a “vice-chancellor’s scholarship.” He “would have graduated two years ago”, working in his dream job of physiotherapy.


There are too many “could’ves and should’ves”, Matt lamented. 


The value of welfare in our communities was really brought to life in the days following Pat’s death. Matt shares that “150 to 200 people came around to…give us a hug.” Matt and his family were “community minded people, usually the ones giving support to others.”

“Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would need support from others… the welfare we were given from our community was just phenomenal.”


“On our back verandah that day, the seeds for the Pat Cronin Foundation were formed.” One of Matt’s good friends said “we need to do something about this, there are too many stories like Pat’s… let’s put our heads together.”


The main purpose of the Pat Cronin Foundation is to “put an end to the Coward Punch… [we don’t call it] a king hit or a one punch… [it’s] a Coward Punch. No one wants to be a coward.”


Matt is “really rapt to be coming out to Monash” later in the year. “When you look at the images of Pat, you are gonna say he could have been in my class. The reality is as young people you’re out and about, and that’s fine, it shouldn’t be about ‘don’t go out’… What we’re about is trying to empower young people to make wise decisions.”


“99% of people won’t throw a coward punch… it’s the 1% that we have got to try and change. We want to give all the good people out there the best strategies… so that if you do get confronted with a situation like this… you have things in your [tool bag].”


The Pat Cronin Foundation has received feedback from students, teachers and professional organisations alike, that this message has profound impacts on the communities’ dynamics and their behaviour. No one wants to have to go through losing a mate, let alone in such tragic circumstances.


Matt was working from his home office “which used to be Pat’s bedroom,” and “sitting at Pat’s desk … [which] still [has] some of [Pat’s] scribbles on it.” In this space the message of the Pat Cronin Foundation is preserved; be wise, think carefully, act kindly.”


After speaking with Matt, I felt I gained a whole new perspective on the cliche reality that “life’s short.” You never know what’s going to happen. Every moment is precious and every choice pivotal. Getting this message out and possibly changing the perspective of just one person can be the difference between someone losing their life or being able to live. The Pat Cronin Foundation’s philosophy of “be wise, think carefully, act kindly” is a simple way to remember to do what’s in our control to ensure the welfare of ourselves and others.


We at MSA Welfare hope to continue spreading this message to university students, an audience which the foundation hasn’t had the opportunity to reach up until now. You can find out more information by visiting the Pat Cronin Foundation website ( and by following them on social media, or by picking up a Welfare pack at our next Welfare on Wheels drop.



The author Krista

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