White Ribbon welcomes Australian Labor’s significant policy announcement about the reproductive and sexual health of Australian women.
White Ribbon CEO Delia Donovan responded to today’s announcement, “This is a historic moment for the advancement of women’s reproductive health in Australia with the first National Sexual & Reproductive Health Strategy being carefully considered and announced by the Australian Labor.”
“A woman’s right to access safe and affordable healthcare for all of their sexual and reproductive health requirements should not be impeded by location, legislation, cost or social attitudes.
“The health system at all levels should be equipped to provide a range of necessary healthcare options for every woman’s needs and choices.
“Decriminalisation of reproductive choices women make in NSW and other jurisdictions who still have legislative or structural resource barriers in place should be the priority of Federal and State and Territory governments.
“We would encourage all political parties in Australia to support this initiative and every woman’s right to seek the health treatment that they choose,” said Ms Donovan.
New CEO Delia Donovan will empower White Ribbon’s community
Today, White Ribbon Australia Chair, John Rosewarne, proudly announced the appointment of Delia Donovan as the new CEO of White Ribbon Australia. Ms Donovan has been Acting CEO for the past four months.
Mr Rosewarne said the Board of Directors is delighted to formally appoint Ms Donovan. “Over the past four months Delia has demonstrated her capability to lead our national organisation, building consensus with key stakeholders, and resetting the organisation for a vibrant future. We are confident that her expertise and leadership gained across the social care sector in Australia and the UK will springboard a new era for White Ribbon Australia,” said Mr Rosewarne.
Ms Donovan has outlined her key strategic priorities. “I am determined to focus on the unique role White Ribbon has to play in addressing the root causes of men’s violence against women, using a collaborative approach with communities around the country,” said Ms Donovan.
“White Ribbon Australia has a crucial role to play in sustaining the social change Australia needs and seeks. We firmly believe that investing in behavioural change of this magnitude needs courage, tenacity and a willingness to work in difficult spaces. We will focus on working collaboratively, using our evidence-based primary prevention programs and our large community reach to address this national emergency.”
Ms Donovan said she was also focused on the work needed to address the challenges the organisation has faced over the past few months. “I’ve looked very closely at the way the organisation has been operating and we have learned and made immediate changes and commitments. We have taken important steps to address current financial challenges to ensure we maintain our movement and rebuild trust with the community,” said Ms Donovan.
“Over the coming months we will be refining the roles and purpose of our network of Ambassadors, Advocates, supporters and community leaders who are passionate about leading and delivering transformational change across Australia. We are determined to continue to hold ourselves to account and invest in strong cooperative, transparent leadership and participation in each community.
“While closely working with government, sector partners and our supporters, the Board and the leadership team will continue the renewal and refocus of White Ribbon’s strategic planning and governance. These adjustments will underpin our commitment to our partners, stakeholders and to our new global sector stakeholders.”
Ms Donovan brings with her extensive experience in non-government and social services settings in Australia and the United Kingdom, drawing on 15 years in frontline social work and social care management roles including her last role as CEO of a local domestic abuse charity supporting 6000 clients year on year. Prior to being promoted to Acting CEO Ms Donovan was Director of Community & Programs, and played a key role in the development and implementation of White Ribbon’s successful schools, workplaces, and community prevention programs.
The following is a video message from new CEO Delia Donovan, talking about her vision for White Ribbon Australia’s future and her strategic priorities moving forwards.
In 2018, Dave Tinelt, White Ribbon Ambassador and Housing and Homeless Support Specialist from Wollongong, NSW embarked on a journey to regional Queensland. Dave undertook an engagement trip to Charleville, Queensland, representing White Ribbon Australia to visit local schools, community service providers, health workers and police.
Engaging young people
Dave was highly interested in engaging with primary and high school kids about respectful relationships.
To reach a space where students were sharing stories, opening up and ready to listen, Dave looked to games and music to work with the students. A social experiment to break the ice allowed Dave to get to know students and for them to relax: “I took a roll of toilet paper and passed it around. Giggles ensued. Take as much or as little as you want. Every square of toilet paper they needed to share something about themselves.”
Dave worked with high school students on showcasing how domestic violence can affect their daily life and how both verbal and physical bullying is a form of perpetuating violence. He encouraged students to understand that it was okay to speak out if they witness violence.
“The teachers were really positive about what White Ribbon is and what we stand for. Everyone took away a different experience to what White Ribbon means for them.”
Understanding the town and their responses
Dave attended community meetings and also met with police to see what they were doing to tackle men’s violence against women and to see what their daily working experiences were with domestic violence. He also visited medical service providers including social services providers working in the drugs and alcohol space.
Dave wanted to understand how many people were in need of these services due to the impact of domestic violence: “I wanted to know what was available to treat returning victims, and what they were doing about the problem. There needs to be more done and available in remote towns.”
Dave recognised that for victims in remote communities, the challenges were made more difficult with the distance, where the next town is at least two to three hours away. This made the escape from an abusive relationship a costlier and daunting task.
Looking to change and building the Men’s Shed
Working with the community and service providers, Dave devised a strategic plan to create a Men’s Shed with a committee coming together. Using one of the local facilities, it was to be a space which offered education with group meetings, peer support and a communal space to speak about problems openly – looking to prevent violence before it starts.
“It all comes down to being informative. If a male can make an informed decision, at least he’s got that education to think twice about what he does.”
At the end of his trip, Dave had the pleasure of attending their annual Charleville festival. “Everyone in town attended, wearing their White Ribbon stickers and badges. It meant a lot to see the kids expressing they understood the issue and were proud to be part of this fantastic movement to end men’s violence against women.”
Dave felt that the local community members, students, support service workers and police all understood the importance of the White Ribbon message, and were all on-board to making change empowering their community.
“Despite the challenges with everything being so widespread out, and the barriers to getting the educational material out, to get everyone on board around the vision; overall, I felt that my trip to regional Queensland was a success. Everyone was positive, and everyone was on the same page.”
This decision by the National Rugby League (NRL) shows its commitment to zero tolerance for any kind of abuse, disrespect and violence against women.
NRL players are widely admired by their loyal fans from all walks of life and with that comes a responsibility to lead by example by demonstrating equality and respect on and off the field.
White Ribbon’s Senior Manager, Sports Engagement, Liam Dooley, said the NRL’s move echoes White Ribbon’s determination that there must be zero tolerance for men’s violence against women.
“This is an important step not just for the great game of rugby league but for the broader community. It’s great to see the NRL listen to community and take on board their feedback in making this decision. We look forward to working collaboratively with the NRL into the future,” Mr Dooley said.
Mr Dooley said that 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence by someone they know.
“We must educate and empower Australian men and boys, to understand and embody equality, to be able to identify, stand up, speak out and act against all forms of men’s violence against women.”
White Ribbon Australia acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the country on which we work, the Cammeraygal people of the Eora nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
White Ribbon Australia recognises that the movement to prevent men’s violence against women is built on the tireless efforts of women and women-led organisations throughout history, internationally and in Australia.