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A message from the Chair to the Editor of Daily Telegraph

White Ribbon Australia recognises Nina Funnell’s experience as a survivor of men’s violence against women and supports her right to voice her views, as per her column in today’s Daily Telegraph. I write to address some of the criticisms and inaccuracies directed at us.

The comments made by Collingwood president Eddie McGuire last Monday about Fairfax journalist Caroline Wilson on Triple M are symptomatic of a culture which normalises attitudes and behaviours that promote the disrespect of women that at the most pointy end results in violence against women.

Words have power and we need our media outlets to be leaders in promoting words that drive respect and gender equality. Understanding the power of words and their appropriate use in driving respect and gender equality is why White Ribbon is conducting training of Triple M on-air staff, including McGuire, in July. This training exemplifies the primary prevention work of White Ribbon. Nina misunderstands and inaccurately portrays the critical primary prevention role of White Ribbon. She also inaccurately fails to understand the advocacy work we undertake to see better resourcing of services to support those who experience domestic violence. Our work is based on a sound research, best practice and independently evaluated approach.

At White Ribbon we believe in behaviour change. We are dedicated to ensuring men are active advocates for changing the social norms, attitudes and behaviours at the core of men’s abuse of women. Our primary prevention programs focus on driving attitudinal and behavioural change to stop violence before it starts. White Ribbon Ambassadors are men who speak out to address sexism, lack of respect and attitudes that can lead to men’s violence against women. The inclusion of a former perpetrator in the program is considered if he speaks from a position of reform and rehabilitation. The message from such a position can be powerful when directed to men, especially those who continue to perpetrate violence against women.

White Ribbon Workplaces are part of the award winning accreditation program that has reached half a million Australian employees and helps to create safer and more respectful workplaces, including those in traditionally male-dominated industries.

White Ribbon’s ‘Breaking the Silence’ Schools Program introduces models of respectful relationships into the school curriculum, giving staff and students an understanding of gender stereotyping and harmful behaviours.

These are just some of the tangible programs run by White Ribbon that with time will lead to a lowering of the need for frontline services. That is the Australia we hope for.

Nick Cowdery AM QC

Chair

For media interviews contact Sally Burleigh: Sally@sbpr.com.au and 0419 516 889

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