The father of a 16-year-old boy who was stabbed to death has spoken of his family’s trauma and his mission to ensure no other parent loses his child in the same way.
Balin Stewart, 16, was fatally stabbed outside his home in Buddina, on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, just before midnight on January 20, 2022.
His father, Michael, told Daily Mail Australia that if teenagers and parents were more aware of knife crime, “I feel like we would still have our son”.
Balin Stewart’s family is campaigning to end knife culture. Balin Stewart (middle) pictured with his mother Kerri-Lyn Stewart (left) and father Michael Stewart (right)
It started out as a regular night out for the Stewart family. Balin went to a party and came home early, then sat with Mr Stewart, watching some YouTube videos, before his dad went to bed.
Shortly after, Mr Stewart and his partner Kerri-Lyn were alerted to a disturbance and came out to find their son unconscious on the grass with a trickle of blood coming from a wound in his chest.
“Even after seeing the wound I wasn’t too worried, the only thing that stuck in my mind was that there was just a little trickle of blood, he wasn’t screaming, it was just a surreal situation,” Mr Stewart said.
“At the time his breathing was very irregular but he was breathing and had a weak pulse but seconds later he took three long gasping breaths and that was it.
“I started doing CPR and when the first police car arrived I thought everything would be fine, then when the ambulance arrived it was like everything was fine now, but unfortunately this was not the case.”
Mr Stewart said he and his wife went inside when the ambulance arrived to change clothes and prepare to go to hospital assuming their son would be fine, but the police then came home to tell them that their son had died.
Balin Stewart, 16, suffered a stab wound that was not ‘survivable’ at Buddina on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast last night, police say
“Nothing ever prepares you to hear the words that your son is gone and time has stood still from that moment on,” Mr Stewart said.
“It took a long time to process what happened and I was really in shock, how could this have happened? He was such a social kid, never in trouble, never in a fight and unfortunately it was his first real fight and he left.
Mr Stewart now says his family have set out to educate the community about the stabbing epidemic.
“We don’t want tougher penalties, we just want everyone, especially young people carrying knives, to understand how dangerous it is to have a knife for any reason,” he said. .
“Our whole mission and focus is education, much the same as the campaign that was done on the ‘King Punch’ where it was changed to be called a loose punch.
“We want to get teenagers and their peers to despise carrying a knife and make it uncool.
“If that was the case before, I think we would still have our son.”
The family set up the The #BinTheBladeForBalin campaign and the The Balin Stewart Foundation in the hope that the devastation suffered by them can be avoided by other families.
Mr Stewart said if knife crime was dealt with, ‘I feel like we would still have our son’.
Mr Stewart said their son lost his life to a simple kitchen steak knife and police said steak knives were the most common knife carried by teenagers because it is the most accessible.
He said he wants parents to have open and honest conversations with their kids and do a self-audit on how many knives they own.
“Have the conversation with your child about knife crime, not in a critical way, but in an open, honest, and investigative way,” he said.
Mr Stewart said more than anything he wanted teenagers to know that it not only ruins the lives of the family of the child who dies, but also their lives and those of their parents.
‘Don’t waste your life carrying a knife, simple as that. You are going to destroy a lot of people’s lives if you hurt someone with a knife,” he said.
“Think of your parents, your brother, your sister, your friends, they have to live with everyone despising their family and the pain it brings to those who love you the most.
The Balin Steward Foundation and #BinTheBladeForBalin began in memory of Balin and aims to educate people about the dangers of carrying a knife and knife crime in general.
“If you don’t care about someone else, think about how your actions affect your family. If the tides were to turn, it would be just as overwhelming for my family if it was our son who took the life.
Mr Stewart said the part that gives his family some peace is learning about the impact Balin has had on his friends and the wider community.
“Balin was the kid who was incredibly popular and loved by everyone. What made us so proud was that so many kids came up to us and told us you know Balin made me feel like I was his best friend,’ he said .
“We had clumsy kids who came to us and said he was the only one who could talk to them, the cool kids loved him, he took care of everyone and that’s what makes us so proud to be his parents and to hear all these stories.
“We just want as many people as possible to know about knife crime. We were shocked and never would have thought our son would have known someone who would carry a knife let alone lose his life to one.
Emergency services were called to a house in Iluka Avenue, Buddina (pictured) at around 11.20pm Thursday night to find a 16-year-old boy with a life-threatening injury The boy died at the scene and a 17-year-old boy has now been charged with murder
A family friend, Ashah Brown, told reporters at the scene that an argument over an ex-girlfriend may have sparked the fight.
“I’ve known him for years, he’s such a nice guy. He was so nice and everyone loved him and no one had a reason not to love him,’ Ms Brown said.
“He was just that good of a person.”