I was in a violent marriage for several years; the majority of that was emotional abuse, but also physical. In June 2014, my then-husband had physically threw and locked me out of our house for the third time that year. Having no access to my car, I walked to my closest friend’s house with the clothes he had “packed” for me – by packed, I mean thrown down the front stairs.
Living in fear was suffocating, and the violence was getting worse, because as he had told me, I was becoming more ‘defiant’ so I was getting what I deserved. In what I call my ‘lightbulb moment’, I vividly remember thinking to myself that night, , ‘Ok, this is it. You need to decide if this is how you want to spend the rest of your life.’ I was lucky enough to have a path out and I took it.
When I moved interstate, away from my family and friends it was out of necessity.
Standing up, speaking out
Being far away from everyone, I was mentally at my lowest. One day I googled ‘domestic violence support’ and the first search that came up was White Ribbon. I became a supporter that day. I completed the e-learningcourses, and would love the opportunity to become an official White Ribbon advocatenext year once registrations open. I ran and competed in challenges, including Run Melbourne, proudly waving the White Ribbon flag.
I found my voice. I realised that if my story can help one other woman, then I know what I went through means something.
Joining the Trek for Respect: Kokoda
Kokoda is something I always thought I would love to do but didn’t think it was realistically within my grasp. When the email came through from White Ribbon to join the Trek for Respect, I just knew I had to be a part of that. It was an instinctual moment, so I jumped on it.
You will meet people from all different walks of life who have come together for the same reason. Trek for Respect: Kokoda allowed me to realise that I wasn’t alone, that so many other women (unfortunately) have experienced similar situations to me and that we can be there to support each other. I now have life-long friendships that I greatly cherish from that trek.
For me White Ribbon’s cause is something I will carry for life. Awareness, speaking out and education are a huge part of ending domestic violence and I want to be apart of that change.
Author Jaimee is a White Ribbon supporter who took on the Trek for Respect: Kokoda in 2019. To find out more about the Trek and to see the itinerary for 2020, please visit the Trek for Respect:Kokoda 2020 information page.
The Brisbane White Ribbon Committee and Cameron McKenzie (White Ribbon Ambassador, Deputy Chair of the Queensland Law Society Domestic & Family Violence Policy Committee) facilitated a panel discussion including:
Rachel Durdin, Chief Advisor – Social and Stakeholder Engagement at Rio Tinto
Michael Wassing, Deputy Commissioner at Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
Ronan Smyth, Executive Manager – White Ribbon Workplace Program
With the event opened by Minister Di Farmer and supported by ANZ and part of QLD Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month the evening was full of inspiring and challenging discussion and practical ideas for organisations and leaders on how they can reinforce positive social messages of respectful relationships and gender equality.
Panel members spoke about their experiences in creating safe and respectful workplace cultures through the White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation Program and how the lines between work and private life can become less clear in a domestic violence context.
Those who attended walked away inspired to create a positive cultural change and improve gender equality within both their workplaces and communities.
The Cairns White Ribbon Committee hosted a community barbecue at Raintrees Shopping Centre in Manunda, an area with one of the highest domestic violence rates in Cairns.
Cairns has also been reminded of the Stand Up, Speak Out campaign with silhouettes and message blocks appearing around the city with Adrian Geary, White Ribbon Ambassador and Cairns Committee Chair and ATSI Reference Group Member putting his neck on the line and engaging with the Cairns community.
Motorists have also been reminded of their responsibility to Stand Up, Speak Out messages displayed on electronic message boards on the highways in Cairns during May.
Reaching the remote
White Ribbon QLD State Committee member Dave Kerrigan made women’s safety a man’s issue in the Blackall, Longreach, and Barcaldine communities during May.
Dave travelled to these central Queensland communities to build awareness with men, women and youth from diverse backgrounds, experiences and professions.
For some of Australia’s rural and remote locations, the work of people like Dave can be critical in providing these communities with opportunities for education about domestic violence and distribute practical tools and information like the White Ribbon STOP kit. Starting conversations about men’s violence against women is a crucial component of White Ribbon’s primary prevention movement.
NSW is the only state not to have modernised its laws regarding termination of pregnancy. White Ribbon Australia believes that all women should have complete control over their reproductive rights and sexual health.
Women’s physical, mental and social wellbeing can be impacted by the criminalisation of abortion. Criminalising abortion impacts a woman’s ability to freely make decisions about
her healthcare and future, and every single one of us should have the freedom to decide what is right for our bodies and lives.
Read White Ribbon Australia’s full statement about women’s reproductive rights here.
We are disappointed and appalled by comments made by male political candidates over the past days about women. There is absolutely no room in our society to spread abusive, violent, hateful and disrespectful remarks about women in any circumstance.
One woman a week is killed by a current or former partner; 85 per cent of Australian women have been sexually assaulted; 1 in 6 women have experienced stalking since the age of 15.
The abuse and disrespect of women is no laughing matter.
Comments made by candidates prior to them running for political office condone and promote the normalisation of men’s misogynistic attitudes and behaviours toward women. We know that these contribute to an environment where violence and disrespect in our communities is at crisis point.
Our community leaders, including all those who stand for political office, should be advocates for positive change with zero tolerance towards violence and disrespect against women. They should set the example of how to end violence against women by standing up, speaking out and acting when they see and hear disrespect, verbal, emotional, mental, financial and physical abuse being perpetuated in any setting.
Behaviour like this has no place in Australian leadership, or anywhere else in our society.
We call on our community to not sit in silence, and to safely intervene to end all forms of violence against women.
 Bryant, W. & Bricknall, S. (2017). Homicide in Australia 2012-2014: National Homicide Monitoring Program report. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/2ozctxh.
 AHRC (2018). Everyone’s business: 4th national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. Retrieved from: https://whiteribbon.org/2Ea7Q6C
White Ribbon Australia teamed up with the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia and New Zealand (IML ANZ) to deliver events that challenged thoughts and ideas regarding gender equality, violence against women and workplace harassment. Collectively, there were 22 events reaching over 2,900 attendees in 19 locations across Australia.
International Women’s Day Great Debates 2019
For 22 years on International Women’s Day IML ANZ has invited business leaders and personalities to debate a challenging topic around gender equality. This year’s sell-out events across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane debated “Her aspiration needs his cooperation.”
White Ribbon Australia are grateful to have been chosen as this year’s charity partner, with the day raising over $48,000 to support our primary prevention programs throughout Australia. The White Ribbon team and volunteers worked with the IML team to deliver these inspiring events.
White Ribbon Australia’s new CEO Delia Donovan joined the debating team in Brisbane and White Ribbon Australia representatives presented opening speeches discussing why they choose to prevent men’s violence against women. Special thanks to Penelope Twemlow, Sharon Orapeleng, David Galbally, Tori Cooke, Simone O’Brien, Tanya Whitehouse, Simon Earle, and Dale Palmer for presenting and helping the team out on the day.
Take a look at the photo album to see more photos from this year’s International Women’s Day Great Debates.
Leadership Outlook Series 2019: Creating a Safe & Respectful Workplace
The Leadership Outlook Series is a national series of practical and thought-provoking workshops. In 2019, the event series focused on creating safe and respectful workplaces, presented by White Ribbon Australia’s Workplace Program Team. Workshops explored violence and its contributing factors, workplaces strategies to support staff experiencing violence, and to mitigate risk.
Taking the workshop across the country to the 20 cities, White Ribbon Workplace team members Stephanie Callanan, Stacey Nelan and Ronan Smyth delivered practical and educational content to positive feedback, including Operations Manager Sally Roebuck from Queensland who said:
I’m pleased to say that today’s series was just as powerful of a catalyst for change as last year’s Outlook Series! I came away with my mind whirring with ways that we can advocate and support women in our community and team, as well as challenging gender stereotypes and norms to bring about attitudinal change… I already have lots of ideas for change here, which we will be getting started on straight away!
Click on the image below to see the photo album for the events.
In a joint venture between White Ribbon Australia, AMES Australia, DSS, Victorian Government and Vic Health, a ground-breaking pilot course in the prevention of violence against women was launched in 2017. This Melbourne Project was made up of 65 visionary leaders from more than 30 different Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities from Melbourne. To complete the course, each participant was required to complete workshops and projects.
On the 7th March 2019, a series of participant projects were showcased at Federation Square, overlooking the Yarra River. More than 180 people were in attendance.
The feature project was a stunning spoken word video, developed in partnership with the Poetry Corners, and delivered by Some Kind of Squirrel Productions. Gathered in the photo above are the participants and producers of the video. The video depicted the torment of the people who witness violence, ending on a positive note – ‘I want to be part of the change!’ Watch the powerful video below.
Another visual project was showcased at the event. With support from Victoria University, the Melbourne Project participants created postcards in different languages . The postcard series was translated into 11 different languages. Each postcard had messages encouraging respectful relationships, and prevention thinking including “Stop violence where it starts” and “Men are taking a stand. They treat women as equals, share responsibilities and decision making.”
The event also featured a live performance from Mitch Tambo, an extraordinary indigenous artist, poet and actor and a dance performance from Sarah Yu, presenting live for the first time her own choreography on family violence developed for the project. The project group Breaking Boundaries produced an amazing video of her dance, which can be viewed below.
The launch event was a success with great energy and the final products from the Melbourne Project groups were all well received. We would like to thank our White Ribbon representatives who attended the event. The next showcase event of projects in late May looks to be promising.
Thank you to Penny Marangos from the White Ribbon Victorian State Committee, White Ribbon Advocates Dr Manjula O’Connor and Simone O’Brien for attending. Thank you also to Simone for speaking – sharing with the audience her story and how White Ribbon Australia fueled her New York Marathon. The launch event and Melbourne Project were supported by our White Ribbon Diversity Portfolio team members, Ingrid Kirchner, Diversity & Inclusion Project Officer, and Sunila Kotwal, Diversity & Inclusion Manager.
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.
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.”
The Purple Bench project was undertaken by the Wheatbelt Youth Council (WYC) in partnership with the WA White Ribbon Committee and the WA Women’s Council in 2018.
The initiative was first launched in Nova Scotia, Canada, and saw the placement of purple benches in public parks to mark the 25th anniversary of the murder of Barbra Baillie by her husband in 1990. Known as Barb’s Benches, these memorials serve to honour the memory of women murdered by their partners and provide information for people experiencing domestic and family violence.
In WA, this awareness raising project was launched by the WA Women’s Council, but was driven by a collaboration with WYCs in Bruce Rock, Merredin, Narembeen, Mukinbudin, Nungarin, Quairading, Bencubbin, Trayning, Kununoppin and Yelbeni. Working with local Shire Councils, community groups and businesses the WYCs took the responsibility to make the benches happen, including raising funds, agreeing on where they should be placed and making the benches ready for installation. In many instances this involved partnerships with local Men’s Sheds, businesses and community groups. As a result, the benches are proudly community owned.
The initiative has been important in encouraging conversations about the issue of violence against women in rural and regional communities, and has highlighted the leading role young people can play in prevention efforts.
Purple Bench projects have also been commenced in Southern Cross and Beverley.
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.