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Our history

The White Ribbon we see today is the result of activism and advocacy efforts across many countries and diversity of voices.

White Ribbon Australia acknowledges the significant achievements of women and women-led organisations throughout history, nationally and internationally to stop men’s violence against women.


  1. November 1981

    25 November declared “International Day Against Violence Against Women

    The date is chosen by the first Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean to commemorate the lives of Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal. The three sisters were violently assassinated on 25 November 1960 following years of dictatorship.

  2. December 1989

    Montreal Massacre

    On the afternoon of December 6 1989, a male student enters a classroom at École Polytechnique de l’Université de Montréal, shouting anti-feminist slogans, fatally shooting 14 and injuring another 10 women in the class.

    His actions devastated a nation and brought the problem of violence against women to the forefront of our collective consciousness.

  3. June 1991

    16 Days of Activism Established

    The Centre for Women’s Global Leadership and participants of the first Women’s Global Institute on Women, Violence and Human Rights call for a global campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence from 25 November to 10 December.

  4. November 1991

    White Ribbon Campaign Starts in Canada

    In response to questions about what men are doing to end men’s violence against women, pro-feminists Layton, Slusser and Kaufman start the White Ribbon Campaign.

    The first White Ribbon Day is held in Canada. The white ribbon symbolises "the idea of men giving up their arms", and men’s opposition to violence against women.

  5. January 1992

    MASA Brings White Ribbon to Australia

    Bob Pease, a member of the Australian group Men Against Sexual Assault (MASA), attends a National Organisation of Men Against Sexism conference in Chicago where Kaufman gives a talk about the White Ribbon Campaign. Inspired by this, Pease drives the launch of White Ribbon campaigns in every state where MASA is active.

  6. December 1997

    MASA run White Ribbon Campaign in Australia

    1992-1997 - MASA members hand cut ribbons for distribution at community stalls, bookshops, rallies and public spaces during White Ribbon week. The week-long campaign finished on 6 December, the anniversary of the École Polytechnique de l’Université de Montréal massacre.

  7. November 1999

    25 November Declared by UN as ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women’

    United Nations General Assembly formally declares 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and invites governments, NGOs and international organisations to organise awareness raising activities on this day.

  8. January 2002

    Rosemary Calder, head of the Federal Government Office

    2000-2002 - Rosemary Calder, head of the Federal Government Office for the Status of Women, organises White Ribbon events on IDEVAW, encouraging prominent Australians to wear a White Ribbon.

  9. January 2004

    The Australian White Ribbon Movement Grows

    The Australian White Ribbon movement grows UNIFEM hire staff to work on the White Ribbon Campaign, and the first Australian White Ribbon website is launched. Amnesty International launches its 10-year international campaign, ‘It’s in our hands – Stop Violence Against Women’.

  10. January 2005

    Australian National Leadership Group, White Ribbon

    The National Leadership Group, chaired by Andrew O’Keefe, is formed made up of volunteers from diverse sectors. The Group guides the direction of the campaign and the Ambassador program. The first White Ribbon Committees are established in the Hunter region and Ballarat.

  11. January 2007

    White Ribbon Foundation Established

    In commitment to its sustainability, the White Ribbon Foundation is established in Australia, with Andrew O’Keefe as Chair of the Board.

    It’s focus is on raising funds for the annual White Ribbon Day and other awareness raising initiatives.


  12. January 2008

    New White Ribbon research and resources

    The White Ribbon Foundation publishes a report on the impact of violence on young people, An Assault on our Future by Dr Michael Flood and Lara Fergus.

    A primary prevention kit is developed to assist schools to organise activities for White Ribbon Day.  Suzanne Grae becomes a White Ribbon Foundation partner.

  13. January 2009

    Breaking the Silence Schools Program Launched

    Breaking the Silence Schools Program launched. Breaking the Silence is piloted in 10 NSW schools.

    ‘My Oath’ campaign launched. Calling on men to pledge to never commit, remain silent or excuse violence against women. It attracts over 13,000 signatories in its first year.

  14. January 2012

    Workplace Accreditation Program is Launched

    Workplace Accreditation Program is launched. During the initial pilot, 23 workplaces are accredited, reaching 85,000 employees.

  15. January 2013

    The White Ribbon Foundation is renamed White Ribbon Australia.

    The White Ribbon Night campaign is launched. White Ribbon committees are formed in QLD, ACT and SA.

    Ken Gillespie becomes Chair of the White Ribbon Australia Board.

  16. January 2014

    The Advocate and Diversity Programs are Launched

    White Ribbon’s Free eLearning course is released. The Ambassador recommitment process commences.

    John Rosewarne becomes Chair of the White Ribbon Australia Board.

  17. February 2016

    The White Ribbon Campaign is active in Over 60 Countries

    All States and Territories have a White Ribbon Committee.

    Michael Kaufman, Walter De Keseredy, Karyn McCluskey and Dr Michael Flood run workshops in 10 locations across Australia with 600 people in attendance. 

    The workshops explore ways to engage men in preventing violence against women. A White Ribbon committee is formed in the NT.

  18. January 2017

    STOP Kit resource is launched


  19. May 2020

    White Ribbon Australia is acquired by Communicare Inc

    The new White Ribbon Australia website is launched, along with new campaigns that focus on community engagement. This new direction including a significant amount of consultation.