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Groundbreaking research into White Ribbon Australia’s Ambassadors

In a global first, White Ribbon Australia has opened its Ambassador program up to researchers, with a team at the University of Wollongong independently evaluating why men become Ambassadors, their violence prevention activities, and the challenges they face in advocating to end violence against women.

Conducted by Kenton Bell and Claire E. Seaman, the project ‘Case Study of White Ribbon Australia’s Ambassador Program: Men as Allies to Prevent Men’s Violence against Women,’ shows the key role men can play in violence prevention, and provides support for White Ribbon’s overhaul of the Ambassador Program.

As part of this overhaul, White Ribbon is nearing completion of its ‘re-committal process’, which requires every Ambassador to reapply for their position, complete additional training on men’s violence against women, undergo further reference checks and submit to interviews with trained White Ribbon staff. Other initiatives include increasing the diversity of Ambassadors and providing year-round training.

The Ambassador program began in 2005 and provides men with a leadership role in engaging men in the prevention of violence against women. White Ribbon Ambassadors are formal representatives of White Ribbon Australia and are required to have the knowledge, skills, attributes and determination to influence Australian men to critically evaluate their attitudes and behaviours toward women.

The data in this national study was collected through an online survey completed by 296 Ambassadors and in-depth interviews with 86 Ambassadors.

Key findings:
1 in 2 men became a White Ribbon Ambassador after hearing stories about men’s violence against women.

“She was a good person and she had a lot to offer the world and she can no longer physically be here, so I feel that it’s just my responsibility to try and do whatever I can to ensure that ray of sunshine doesn’t completely extinguish.”

70% of Ambassadors felt a moral obligation to join a movement to end men’s violence against women.

“I want my daughter to have the same opportunities and level of safety in her life as my sons.”

The vast majority of men (74%) were committed to promoting gender equality prior to becoming a White Ribbon Ambassador, however, 40% report that being an Ambassador has changed how they relate to women. 85% of these men report that they are more conscious of promoting equality and equity in their personal and professional lives since becoming an Ambassador.

“I am no longer intimidated by the feminist movement, and no longer see that movement as a threat to my masculinity or male freedom! I feel I can stand side by side with strong women who have been fighting against gender inequality.”

83% of Ambassadors felt that White Ribbon enabled men to speak to other men about violence against women.

“I believe I am more likely to challenge men about the language they use and what they think is acceptable.”

Men place a high value on the Ambassador title. They want the position to be a rare honour bestowed only on men who continually prove their commitment to White Ribbon.

More information
Visit www.whiteribbon.org.au/understand-domestic-violence/research/ for a summary of the research report and the full White Ribbon response to the findings and recommendations.

To arrange an interview with White Ribbon Australia CEO Libby Davies, contact Sally Burleigh: sally@sbpr.com.au or 0419 516 889

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