Engaging Regional and Remote Queensland communities in the White Ribbon social movement
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.”