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White Ribbon: FAQs

Download the pdf of our White Ribbon FAQs, or see below:

Q1: What is primary prevention? Why is it important? Why doesn’t White Ribbon support women and children experiencing violence and abuse?

A: White Ribbon’s focus is primary prevention – stopping violence before it occurs, by challenging the deeply ingrained attitudes, social norms and power inequalities that give rise to men’s violence against women and gender inequality.

Primary prevention does not involve providing direct support to women and their children escaping violence and abuse. It aims to reduce the need for services by driving societal change for future generations. Primary prevention action works to change attitudes and behaviours that result in disrespect, abuse and violence against women. Prevention action aims to stop the likelihood of men and boys using violence against women and girls. Primary prevention addresses the root causes of violence.

Examples of White Ribbon Australia primary prevention initiatives include:

  • public information and awareness raising campaigns
  • educational programs in schools
  • training and e-learning courses
  • online resources and publications
  • research
  • programs in workplaces
  • government policy establishing frameworks and standards for preventing violence against women and promoting gender equality.

Through education, awareness raising and creative campaigns, preventative programs, partnerships and political advocacy, White Ribbon Australia highlights the positive role men can play to stop violence against women and enables them to be part of this social change.

Learn more about primary prevention.

Q2: What is the basis of the White Ribbon Social Movement?

A: The key to the White Ribbon Social Movement is the engagement of men in the prevention of violence against women. White Ribbon understands that men must be engaged to achieve the social change necessary to prevent men’s violence against women. The movement recognises that violence is a learned, gendered and institutionally supported behaviour. White Ribbon targets the sources of violence rather than accepting the world as it is.

Through education, awareness raising, creative campaigns, preventative programs and partnerships, we provide the tools for men to stop violence against women in their community and beyond.

Underpinning our work is the engagement of men.  We provide a safe and inclusive platform for men to develop greater understanding of the abuse and disrespect of women that leads to gender inequality and violence against women. We encourage them to understand and discuss complex and sensitive issues.

Our  male engagement strategy is evidence based and backed by academic and action based research and independent evaluation. It is specifically tailored to provide clear and powerful messaging to men to inspire change and appropriately equip them with strategies and tools for action. White Ribbon works to embed these in the fabric of community and is community driven and supported, to enable change to occur from grassroots through to leadership levels of society.

Q3: What about violence against men?

A: White Ribbon believes that all forms of violence are unacceptable and acknowledges that men and women can be victims. We also acknowledge that the majority of domestic violence victims are women. We understand there are organisations working to prevent violence against men and we commend any prevention work they do.

To be successful, campaigns must have a central focus, because different kinds of violence have different causes and effects. Most charities have their areas of focus, for example Pink Ribbon focuses on breast cancer and Movember focuses on male health. It is important for charities to maintain focus to ensure positive social impact and cost efficiency.

White Ribbon focuses on men’s violence against women.  We support organisations working to end other types of violence. Hopefully the work done between us will see the elimination of all forms of violence in the generations to come.

Q4: Is White Ribbon Australia a feminist organisation?

A: White Ribbon Australia is part of the feminist movement.  We work to achieve gender equality, reframe masculinity, combat patriarchy, and foster social justice.  We engage in activism and media advocacy to change social norms, influence institutional structures, corporate sectors, and impact public policy. White Ribbon Australia has interpreted a feminist approach through a health promotion model.

Q5: How much money does White Ribbon get from the government?

A: We receive 10% of our funding from a mix of local, state and federal governments. The vast majority of this funding goes towards our diversity program which enables us to reach out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and multicultural communities to address domestic violence.

White Ribbon Australia is 90% funded by the community. We rely on donations from the community to drive social change and challenge the attitudes and behaviours that can lead to men’s violence against women. Community generosity helps develop and extend our prevention work. It includes programs in schools, workplaces and the broader community along with initiatives to engage men, advocacy, marketing and communication, community support and training.

Q6: Do you take funding away from tertiary services?

A: White Ribbon’s focus is on primary prevention. We do not take funding away from tertiary services. We connect with and support tertiary services through advocacy and fundraising.   Many White Ribbon Australia community events donate a portion of the proceeds raised from their events to their local tertiary services such as women’s shelters. A recent example is the White Ribbon Riders raising $80,000 for women’s services in the Blacktown area in Sydney.

In our advocacy work, we have consistently called for reinstated and increased funding for essential tertiary services.

We are not the beneficiaries of recent changes to government funding of tertiary services. We deliberately avoid reliance on government funding, so that critical funds can be directed towards tertiary services and the support of women and children across Australia.

Q7: Does White Ribbon collaborate with the prevention sector and tertiary service providers?

A: White Ribbon Australia is part of a global movement to end men’s violence against women and engages with prevention sector and tertiary service providers. We collaborate with them to demand gender equality and the right of every woman to live in safety, free from the abuse of men in all its forms.

We work individually and collectively with other organisations to advocate for effective violence prevention laws and services, to change violence supportive attitudes and behaviours, and to champion the role of men as an integral part of the effort to end men’s abuse of women.

As stated in the White Ribbon Australia Strategic Framework, the Campaign will continue to work in partnership with the key national gender equality and violence prevention agencies, to deliver effective joint campaigns needed for system change.  We actively refer onto service providers, and promote their work across social media, marketing and our prevention program platforms.

Men’s violence against women requires a holistic, whole of community response.  We collaborate with external organisations to ensure the work of the Campaign aligns with the wider effort to prevent and respond to violence against women.

Q8: How does White Ribbon define itself as a community organisation? Why isn’t it more ‘grassroots’?

A: White Ribbon is a grassroots social movement which is owned and driven by the community. We have a high profile and people recognise the symbol of the white ribbon. However, we are a team of 31 people in a single Sydney-based office. We appear bigger because of the community support for our message and programs.

In November 2016, over 700 events took place across Australia to raise awareness, fundraise, and enhance conversation about preventing men’s violence against women. We do not organise these events. Our small team offers support to event hosts through provision of White Ribbon Australia materials such as factsheets, posters, brochures and merchandise.

White Ribbon Australia works at grassroots level engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as well as multicultural communities. By organising forums, facilitated workshops and training, we encourage them to spread the White Ribbon message in their communities: that violence against women and children is not acceptable.

There are also more than 40 White Ribbon Committees around Australia. These committees are made up of passionate Ambassadors, Advocates and champions who volunteer their time and expertise to make a difference. These committees coordinate the White Ribbon social movement within their local communities.

Q9: Does White Ribbon spend money on extravagant things like white ribbons on jets, corporate lunches and helicopters?

A: White Ribbon Australia has a strong values base that includes courage, honesty and integrity. The use of funds is in accordance with our strategic framework and as approved through ethical and best practice governance. The white ribbons that you may see painted on jets and helicopters are created and funded by our supporters in the RAAF to show their support for the White Ribbon Social Movement.   We do not provide funding for these initiatives.

We also do not host corporate lunches. Our partners and supporters may host White Ribbon breakfasts, lunches or dinners, so they can educate their networks about the importance of the movement, engage their communities and spheres of influence to take action, and help raise funds for our primary prevention programs. The White Ribbon Australia CEO and other representatives of the organization are often invited to speak at these events.

Q10: What is the process for becoming an Ambassador?

A: Ambassadors go through a rigorous application process involving:

  • completion of the White Ribbon Australia Ambassador ‘expression of interest’ form
  • completion of online training  ‘First Steps: key knowledge and skills for White Ribbon Ambassadors’
  • a telephone interview with White Ribbon Australia and
  • Reference checks.

The Ambassador Program was reviewed in 2014. Consultations with key stakeholders were undertaken through a series of roundtables. The new strategy in place reflects the outcomes of this extensive review and consultation. All men who became Ambassadors before 2013 have been asked to recommit to the Campaign by undertaking the above steps. This extensive re-committal process is almost complete. We have spoken with over 1000 men during this process. We are also simultaneously processing new Ambassador applications.

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