Media Releases

Domestic violence, professional sporting codes and the future of violence against women in Australia

This week, the media’s eyes return to our country’s sporting codes and the issue of player behaviour off the field.

White Ribbon and sector partners are working with the NRL to continue the cultural shift needed to drive the attitudinal and behavioural changes that must be embraced by all players in relation to violence against women. Three organisations will join in a coalition the NRL has established to further tackle this issue.

As an organisation, White Ribbon respects the integrity of our nation’s legal processes. However, we also know that to make lasting cultural, attitudinal and behavioural changes, transparency and affirmative action are needed from the time allegations of violence against a woman first arise. It is also imperative that all parties are supported during the investigation of any criminal charge.

The NRL must maximise its opportunities to reach and educate players, particularly young players, about the risks and consequences of men’s violence against women; and to reinforce the unacceptability of that behaviour. They are the sporting leaders of tomorrow.

The NRL also has the potential to reach and educate their fans, particularly younger fans, on what is and what is not acceptable behaviour.

The coalition’s initiatives will build upon the educational and community engagement programs the NRL already runs.

“We understand there are major roadblocks to enforcing better practices in the complexities of player contracts and individual club ethos and practices. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty must also be observed.

White Ribbon expects the NRL clubs to deal with the issue of violence to women and children as severely as drinking and drug related misconduct. The small minority of players who bring the code into disrepute in those ways must be treated according to the same standards when the matter relates to domestic violence” Nicholas Cowdery, White Ribbon Chair, said.

“Nothing should stand in the way of our having complete confidence in our sporting heroes as role models. The safety and well-being of our women and children are also served by their adherence to high standards of behaviour.”


White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end men’s violence against women and girls, promote gender equality, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.

White Ribbon Australia (White Ribbon), as part of this global movement, aims to create an Australian society in which all women can live in safety, free from violence and abuse. White Ribbon works through a primary prevention approach understanding that men are central to achieving the social change necessary to prevent men’s violence against women. We engage men to stand up, speak out and act to influence the actions of some men and demand change.

White Ribbon is dedicated to ensuring men are active advocates for changing the social norms, attitudes and behaviours that are at the root of men’s abuse of women. Through education, awareness-raising and creative campaigns, preventative programs and partnerships, we are highlighting the positive role men play in preventing men’s violence against women and enabling them to be part of this social change.

For media interviews contact Sally Burleigh: and 0419 516 889

This policy statement represents the organisational position of White Ribbon Australia. It does not represent the individual opinions and views of our stakeholders, including, but not limited to, our Ambassadors, Advocates, Partners and staff members.

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