One brave Gold Coaster has teamed up with Bravehearts to raise awareness of child abuse.
Matthew McKenzie is now a well-known chef, thanks to his work with Naked Chef Jamie Oliver. But before successfully graduating from Jamie’s Fifteen Melbourne restaurant in 2007, Matthew had to deal with a dark secret.
“When I was younger I was sexually assaulted by a middle aged man, who at the time was a family friend,” Matthew explains.
“It wasn’t until I was older that I became educated on sexual assault and soon realised that I had been a victim,” he added.
“I then spoke up and told my step-dad and started to share my experiences and talk about what had happened to me. It is the best feeling to get all those bad memories off your chest and out into the open.”
One in five children will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach 18, making it vital for the Gold Coast community to support Bravehearts’ events like Highway Thunder.
Matthew was at Parklands yesterday to launch the September 16 event, which will see hundreds of vehicles make their way to the Showgrounds, to raise money and awareness for Bravehearts.
The cars, trucks and motorbikes will proudly display the flags “Protect Our Kids”, and will be escorted by police from two locations: the Logan Hyperdome car park and Betty Diamond Park, Tugun.
Gold Coast resident Keith Woodbridge was a police officer for 35 years and is a founding member of the Child Protection Investigation Unit in Townsville and will be taking part in Highway Thunder.
“We want to send a message to the community and to show that child sexual assault needs to be stamped out,” he said.
He will be driving his 1958 Plymouth Belveder in the convoy from Logan Hyperdome: “I have all the ‘Protect Our Kids’ flags ready to go."
Bravehearts founder and executive director Hetty Johnston said the money raised for Bravehearts would support education, prevention and counselling programs for children who had been sexually assaulted.
“It is important for the public to help us raise money to make Australia the safest place to raise a child. It is about educating, empowering and protecting our children and their futures,” she said.
Entry fees are only $10 per vehicle. For more information visit the Bravehearts' website.