Thirty years ago, his son was senselessly shot dead. Now, Ken Marslew, is fighting to keep his Australia-wide anti-violence movement going, with the government threatening to cut funding.

Michael Marslew was an 18-year-old university student working at a Pizza Hut in Jannali, South Sydney, when he was gunned down during an armed robbery in 1994.

In the wake of his killing, mourning father, Ken, now 79, founded a charity aimed at lowering the level and impact of violence in society. Initially he was an advocate for the death penalty, but over time focused more on rehabilitation and education.

“I lost the plot. All I wanted to do was get even,” he told Central News after suffering a parent’s worst nightmare, “but then I realised I wasn’t the same as these people.

“Whatever I do to them wasn’t going to bring Michael back. So [I thought], what can I do to make a difference? And that’s when Enough is Enough was born”.

Ken continues to push for legislative change, but his approach of working with offenders is not always well received.

“The government is threatening to take our funding,” he said, sighing in frustration, “they know what to do but they just won’t do it.”

His recently published book, Motivated by Murder, details his journey and mission to address violence at the root, providing education in schools and prisons.

“There are many strategies for picking up the pieces, but very few for stopping it from happening in the first place,” he says.

What we have is a legal process that’s got bugger all to do with justice.

“Because we work with victims and offenders, we get criticised. When you work with both, you actually see solutions. But nobody wants to do that. It’ll happen. It has to happen.

“Political correctness and wokeness is stopping us from doing good in the community. We take ourselves too seriously.”

Ken has little good to say about Australia’s way of dealing with crimes of violence.

“We do not have a justice system,” he said. “What we have is a legal process that’s got bugger all to do with justice.

“I’ve been in the Victim’s Advisory Board, the NSW Sentencing Council, the Parole Board, and the Young Offenders Advisory Council, and the Restorative Justice Advisory Council, I’ve worked with police — we’ve had a foot in all of these places and nowhere have I found justice.

“The system should be more supportive of rehabilitation of victims and offenders. Unless someone gets up and says something, it’s gonna just stay the same.”

The charity rehabilitates offenders through counselling and restorative justice, which has proven to be controversial for bringing together victims and offenders.

Ken is frequently questioned about how he maintains a positive, productive attitude.

“I hated the four blokes that murdered my son. But it wasn’t until I let the hate go did I get a sense of freedom,” he said.

It’s really satisfying when someone comes up says you made a positive difference in their life.

“Up until 10 years after it happened, I’d be walking up the street and someone would come up to me and burst into tears. And then, once I started doing work in schools and prisons, I had ex-cons come up to me in the street and say ‘thank you’.

“It’s really satisfying when someone comes up says you made a positive difference in their life.”

Fifteen years after Michael’s murder, Ken shook hands with one of the men responsible, Karl Kramer, inviting him to collaborate with Enough is Enough.

“I never wanted to be friends with the bloke. I was gonna get him to work with young offenders to not go down the same path,” Ken said.

Unfortunately, Kramer was back in prison only weeks later, despite Ken’s efforts.

“It was at that stage I told him to ‘F-off’. He’s tried to contact me on several occasions but I think I’ve done as much as I can,” he added.

Ken’s second son committed suicide five years ago.

“I also considered suicide,” he said. “I had to make the pain go away.

“Then Enough is Enough began to take focus. I could fall into a heap in the corner and do nothing. I could run my life comfortably and ignore everything. Or, I could make a difference because of my experience, and I chose the third.”

Main image of Ken Marslew by Sophia Khouri.