For a life cut short, Christies call for change

Daniel Christie lived his short life by the mantra ''if it's change to be, it's up to me''.

The 18-year-old, the latest victim of a fatal single-punch attack during a night out in Sydney, adopted this as he transformed himself from a ''tubby, happy chappy'', bullied in primary school into an athletic and much admired young man.

And as the ''gentle giant'', affectionately known as ''Bone'', was farewelled on Friday by 400 family, friends and strangers, including Governor-General Quentin Bryce, it was a mantra his father Michael Christie, urged the NSW government to adopt.

Mr Christie made the passionate plea for politicians to bring in laws to stop ''the insanity'', to end the ''tragedy and sorrow'' caused by alcohol-related violence.

''I feel it important not only to talk about change but to actively pursue change right to the end because we have to do what is right,'' Mr Christie told the service at the Hillsong Church Convention Centre in Baulkham Hills. ''That's what Daniel would have wanted.''

Quentin Bryce embraces Daniel's mother Maureen.Photo: Wolter Peeters

Daniel, who grew up in Thornleigh, died last Saturday after his life support was switched off, 11 days after he was knocked unconscious in Kings Cross while out with his brother, Peter, for New Year's Eve.

His death and the outpouring of grief and anger that has followed it has renewed the pressure on the NSW government to find a way to curb drunken violence.

Only 18 months ago, another young man, Thomas Kelly, was killed after a single-punch attack metres away from where Daniel suffered a similar fate.

Outside the service, Ms Bryce spoke on the public's behalf about such violence and said the entire country expressed its deepest sympathy to the Christie family over the ''devastating'' death of their ''very precious son''.

''As governor-general and, if I may say, as a parent, for all parents, for all grandmothers and grandfathers, there is no place, no excuse, no tolerance for gratuitous violence in our society,'' she said.''It's unacceptable and un-Australian.''

Inside the service she comforted the Christie family, at one stage embracing Mrs Christie, as one mother to another.

Self-proclaimed mixed martial arts fighter Shaun McNeil, 25, is accused of murdering Daniel by allegedly punching him in an unprovoked attack.

But Mr Christie begged those present on Friday not to seek revenge or carry hate for his son's ''inexplicable'' death.

''Daniel would want us all to get on with our lives without adding the extra burden of carrying any negative feelings like hate and revenge,'' he said.

''This is very important because it's a legacy to us all from Daniel. Please do not bear these ill feelings towards others.''

The service was a celebration of a young man who, his mother Maureen said, was born with a ''beautiful soul'' and who was never frightened of living. ''I cannot adequately express the joy I've experienced being Daniel's mother,'' she told the service. ''He was as solid as a rock and tender as a lamb.''

And they lined up to pay their respects - his two older brothers, his best mate, his high school history teacher and a family friend.

Each had their own touching memories of a young man, who loved to cook and work out. To his brothers, Peter and Daniel, their baby brother's ''happy spirit truly resonated throughout people'' and he had been a model for how they lived their own lives.

''Watching Daniel's unfaltering determination to reach his goals is honestly one of the biggest motivators in our lives.''

On Thursday Premier Barry O'Farrell promised a four-pronged response to rising concern over alcohol-related violence. He said reforms to further address drug- and alcohol-related violence would be considered by cabinet on Monday before an expected announcement on Tuesday.

Mr Christie told the service the Premier had asked for his feedback on any possible changes.

''But the real task rests with Daniel's generation. I have unquestionable respect and love for them, especially for his friends that were there endlessly wailing, just like we were at Daniel's bedside,'' Mr Christie said. ''If they are representative of his generation, then this change will take place and behaviour like we have seen over the last 10 years culminating in so much tragedy and sorrow will be a thing of the past. ''Please make it happen young people, you are our hope … If change is to be, it's up to each and every one of us.''

Quentin Bryce embraces Daniel's mother Maureen. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Quentin Bryce embraces Daniel's mother Maureen. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Michael Christie speaks at the funeral of his son. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Michael Christie speaks at the funeral of his son. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Friends and family gather for the funeral. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Friends and family gather for the funeral. Photo: Wolter Peeters


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