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AFL Victoria (VFL) and White Ribbon Australia partnering to end men’s violence against women

The AFL (Victoria) White Ribbon Collaboration Launch

The AFL (Victoria) Season Launch Announcement | White Ribbon Australia Sports Team with VFL CEO Steven Reaper

 

With the launch of AFL Victoria’s Corporate Social Responsibility program earlier this year, White Ribbon Australia has been chosen as one of the four charities for the CSR program focus. This new collaboration with AFL Victoria will create numerous opportunities for White Ribbon Australia to work alongside the league to address the issue of men’s violence against women that is prevalent within Australia.

The partnership will bring together clubs across the state participating in White Ribbon Rounds throughout the season in order to increase awareness to players, staff and supporters. The first White Ribbon Round for 2018 took place on Saturday, the 5th of May where the Frankston Dolphins played against the Northern Blues. The players wore white arms bands in solidarity with women who have died at the hands of a current or former partner. White Ribbon Ambassador, Glenn Buesnel-May, opened the event recognising the importance of such community and sports collaboration to end men’s violence against women. This White Ribbon Round raised over $500 for White Ribbon programs in Victoria kicking off the partnership between the VFL and White Ribbon Australia on a very positive note.

The VFL’s commitment to the White Ribbon social change movement will work to raise awareness of the importance of respectful relationships among codes, clubs, members and fans. AFL Victoria CEO Steven Reaper understands the collaborative importance stating that “We know that football plays a powerful role in Victorian culture and the four themed rounds will enable us to utilise the strength of the Victorian football community to support and promote these causes.”

The other themed rounds will be supporting charities Fight MND, beyondblue, and Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF). The next White Ribbon Round will be held on the weekend of August 4th.

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Letter: Stopping dowry related abuse and violence

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is in support of the movement to make dowry abuse a global and United Nations’ issue in order to effectively prevent dowry related violence and abuse of women from immigrant communities.

White Ribbon Australia supports the advocacy work of Dr Manjula O’Connor, who together with like-minded individuals and organisations, is working to raise awareness of the issue of Dowry abuse internationally and establish legal deterrents to its practice.

Dr O’Connor is passionate about gender equality, domestic violence awareness and victim support both locally and abroad. Her advocacy to end men’s violence against women occurs across the breadth of her spheres of influence and is backed by sound research, deep professional knowledge and cultural understanding.

Dr Manjula O’Connor, is the Founding Director of Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health and a White Ribbon Australia Advocate.

White Ribbon Australia strongly condemns any form of violence against women and works to change the attitudes and behaviours associated with male privilege and power that result in this violence. We acknowledge and identify that Dowry is a cultural practice that has its genesis in gender inequality and is the result of male privilege and men’s violence against women. Dowry, as an ancient cultural practice originated from India, where parents gifted their daughter jewellery and/or cash at her wedding. It began at a time when women were not financially independent. Some interpretations suggest that Dowry was payment to the daughter in lieu of inheritance. In modern India, the inheritance is equally divided between sons and daughters and the Dowry Prohibition Act was passed in 1961. This should have eradicated this practice, however, the practice of dowry has now spread across the world. When a woman marries a man living abroad, her husband can command a premium Dowry. This financial abuse, demanding more and ongoing dowry payments, can escalate to physical, sexual, emotional, psychological abuse, social isolation, sometimes leading to the bride’s death.

Dr O’Connor has mobilized the Victorian Government, presenting evidence of dowry abuse to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence (2016). Her advocacy resulted in the Royal Commission Recommendation 156 that states:  “The Victorian Government amend section 6 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) to expand the statutory examples of family violence to include forced marriage and dowry related abuse (within 12 months).”

White Ribbon Australia supports Dr O’Connor’s advocacy to mobilise other Australian State and Territory Governments to put in place wider reaching legal deterrents to this practice. We also endorse this action in the global context.

This work aligns with the aim of the White Ribbon social change movement to prevent men’s violence against women. Core to the movement’s work is advocacy and programs working to change attitudes, behaviours and practices that have become normalised and that drive violence and abuse.

We urge your support of the establishment of global deterrents to Dowry practice.

Yours sincerely

Libby Davies
CEO

White Ribbon Australia

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Statement in relation to the NRL and violence

White Ribbon Australia has zero tolerance approach to violence against women and expects that, as influential community institutions, all sporting clubs and associations also uphold a zero tolerance approach to help drive the change needed to stop this violence. NRL players and employees are role models for men and boys, women and girls across Australia, and should be held accountable for their actions at all times.

White Ribbon works with the NRL in an advisory capacity, including in the development of the game’s ‘Voice against Violence’ campaign and other prevention activities and initiatives. We remain committed to this work ensuring the NRL and all sporting codes demonstrate accountability, respect and transparency in their efforts to address and prevent men’s violence against women. White Ribbon does not have in place a formal partnership arrangement with  the NRL.

Violence against women is a serious issue both in sport and in the community at large. It takes the whole of community working together and committed to a zero tolerance attitude to VAW  to stop this violence before it occurs by challenging the deeply ingrained attitudes, behaviours and power inequalities that give rise to men’s violence against women.

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As the Suzanne Grae and White Ribbon Partnership ends we acknowledge the outstanding legacy of Suzanne Grae’s contribution.

Suzanne Grae has been a proud supporter and advocate of White Ribbon Australia since October 2008.  Staff, store teams and customers have raised $2.6 million dollars over this past nine years.  This extraordinary support has played a significant role in the growth and development of White Ribbon Australia and the White Ribbon social change movement in Australia.  It has supported growth of our organisation to the independently acclaimed global leadership position it holds today.  Across the almost decade during which Suzanne Grae has supported White Ribbon Australia we have developed and expanded our community engagement work and primary prevention programs that, as independently evaluated, are realising effective positive social change to help prevent men’s abuse of and violence against women. You can read our 2016-2017 Annual Report here.

The initial seed funding and the ongoing investment provided by Suzanne Grae has facilitated the award winning Breaking the Silence Respectful Relationships Schools Program which has been creating real generational change by strengthening a culture of respect and equality in school communities across Australia.  Since 2009, Breaking the Silence has now supported 564 schools nationally, reaching over 23,500 teachers and 311,000 students.

Suzanne Grae was also part of the ground breaking pilot of the White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation Program. The company was one of the 26 pilot organisations to support the development of this Program in 2012.  This cutting-edge engagement from Suzanne Grae paved the way for what is now an internationally recognised program driving positive cultural change throughout workplaces and their communities nationally.  The Program has accredited 145 workplaces, engaging over 600,000 Australian employees across all sectors.

After a considered review, Suzanne Grae has made the decision to end its partnership with White Ribbon and in 2018 will direct its community support program to another area of need. White Ribbon Australia will continue to be a Suzanne Grae Workplace Giving partner.

Our deep appreciation to Suzanne Grae for the valuable partnership and critical support over the past nine years.

We acknowledge and acclaim the remarkable contribution the company has made towards ending men’s violence against women.

Thank you.

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White Ribbon and Endeavour Drinks Group partnership statement

Please find below our position in relation to White Ribbon and Endeavour Drinks Group partnership which addresses your questions.

The partnership between White Ribbon Australia and the Endeavour Drinks Group was approved by the Board after a process of extensive stakeholder and research consultation. We are conscious that some supporters regard this partnership as controversial. We informed all supporters about this partnership.

Endeavour Drinks Group (EDG) have been supporting the work of White Ribbon since June 2013 to express their commitment to the prevention of violence against women. One of the main drivers for the establishment of this relationship was to “go where the problem is”. With millions of Australians visiting BWS/Dan Murphy’s each year, the partnership provides an opportunity to reach the community and continue to bring violence against women into the open, to talk about it and help prevent it from happening.

Our partnership with EDG is based on ethical engagement, sound research and an informed understanding of the issue of men’s violence against women and its link with alcohol. It is a relationship between a large retail group and White Ribbon Australia as part of the broader strategy to engage the community at large and men in particular, at times and places that extend the reach of the campaign into contexts that are difficult to reach.

Our campaign message is clear and unarguable: Alcohol is not an excuse for violence. There is no excuse. Within the limits of what is possible to convey with the time and means available at such points of sale, we believe that the displayed message in its context provides a focus on the link between alcohol and violence. Alcohol is not the underlying driver of violence against women. Men always have a choice; not all people who drink are violent, and many people who do not drink are violent. The proceeds that were raised by this initiative (including the Endeavour Drinks Group contribution) will be applied fully to programs aimed at young men at risk of alcohol abuse and abuse by violence.

Alcohol increases the likelihood and severity of violence and patterns of alcohol consumption. It is precisely for those reasons that White Ribbon Australia decided to target point of sale with key messaging that may be effective with men purchasing alcohol. Our message was on display and targeted to men at risk of alcohol-fuelled violence.

White Ribbon Australia is in no way denying a link between alcohol and violence – we are acknowledging the fact and seeking to contact men who may be at risk of causing the one to lead to the other. Nor is WRA supporting or encouraging the consumption of alcohol – we accept that it occurs and seek to use that circumstance to the advantage of our mission.

Research demonstrates that the relationship between alcohol and violence is the result of a complex interaction of a number of variables eg physical effect, individual characteristics, the drinking environment and societal attitudes and values. To address this issue associated with alcohol dependency and fuelled violence requires more than a focus on the activities of alcohol distributors.

To prevent violence against women requires engaging with the public at places where they live, work and play.

Alcohol does not itself drive violence against women. However, the contribution of alcohol to increased perpetration is significant in the context of social norms and practices that condone or support violence against women, in particular those relating to masculinity and masculine peer group behaviour.

Funds raised will enable White Ribbon to continue to drive primary prevention initiatives in communities across Australia, helping them to support efforts to stop men’s violence against women before it starts.

White Ribbon is committed to engaging with people across the community to obtain maximum reach on the key messaging on stopping violence against women in places where they live, work and play.

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Statement about White Ribbon’s Partnerships

White Ribbon Australia is committed to ending all forms of disrespectful behaviour, abuse and violence experienced by women. Every day White Ribbon works closely with its ambassadors,  advocates and supporters, community, government and corporate partners to bring about social change.

White Ribbon focuses on men’s responsibility to prevent men’s violence against women and believes that all men must be involved and be prepared to stand up, speak out and safely intervene when necessary, in order to achieve the change which is needed to stop the violence.

White Ribbon does not receive substantial funding from government; in fact, government funding makes up just 7% of its overall funding and those contributions are made towards specific programs. The resources to support this social change movement come from across the community, because it is through all the diverse parts of the community that we must drive the change necessary to prevent the violence.

To successfully lead a social change movement working to end men’s violence against women in Australia, White Ribbon must work closely with corporate, private, community and organisational partners to be the point of change and properly resource its campaigns and programs.

To achieve the levels of support for the change required we must build relationships with organisations which sometimes occupy  spaces in our society where they are regarded as possible contributors to the issue. Working in these spaces requires careful, considered, researched and often difficult and challenging decisions taken by the Board and operationalised by Management.

We are committed to a path of inclusion of the variety of organisations that make up our community to ensure that they are  provided with the necessary guidance, support and tools to drive cultural change within their own structures in order to reduce and end violence. Evidence-based programs which have demonstrated a measurable reduction in disrespectful behaviour and violence towards women can be embedded in these organisation’s commitment to change. Working with them also gives us better access to potential perpetrators to whom the message may be delivered more effectively.

We believe that engagement with these organisations is appropriate, necessary and vital in ending this scourge. They are encouraged to lead the change both as individuals and as organisations and to recognise the vital role they must play as community and corporate leaders and participants.

We acknowledge that this journey is a difficult one and must be carefully managed and periodically reviewed to ensure that the commitment made is genuine and can be held to account under the closest scrutiny.

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White Ribbon Statement about the NSW Government’s Poker Machine License Program

White Ribbon Australia will not be accepting a donation related to Fairfield Hotel’s application to the NSW Government for additional poker machines.

Our initial intent in responding to the Fairfield Hotel request was to use the donation to directly fund White Ribbon’s prevention programs in schools and workplaces to address the heightened impacts gambling is having in the community.

Organisations are allowed to correct and learn from their mistakes. Once we realised the extent of the failed policy we withdrew our support.

Proceeds of lotteries and gambling collected by Governments usually go into a central fund. Governments then distribute these funds via grant programs to charities and community groups who deliver programs to counter the impacts gambling has on women, families and the community, along with other social services programs.

White Ribbon does not support the nature of the NSW Government’s Poker Machine License Program and will not support any application under this program, now or in the future.

Libby Davies, CEO White Ribbon Australia.

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White Ribbon on the power of White Ribbon as a movement of change not just one Day

Recent public conversation has questioned the benefit of White Ribbon Day including the use of the funds raised through this annual day.

White Ribbon Day is an annual awareness initiative held on one day of the year.  However it is one small part of the much larger White Ribbon social change movement that operates 365 days a year.

The day focuses the attention of the community on the issue of the prevention of men’s violence against women and gender equality by asking the community to become aware, engaged and help prevent violence towards women.

White Ribbon drives prevention to stop men’s violence against women before it occurs through:

  • Education programs in primary and secondary schools, supporting teachers and the community to build respectful relationships amongst young people
  • Workplace Accreditation to foster a culture of respect and equality in all workplaces
  • Work with organisations at community level to raise awareness of the significant role men play in the disrespect of women, and the important actions they can take to remedy this societal problem
  • Develop a range of important resources for the community, including free eLearning and factsheets
  • Advocating for change across areas of community where ongoing reform is required to help stop violence and support those who experience violence.

As a grassroots organisation, owned and driven by the community, White Ribbon relies mostly on funding from the community it serves, receiving only limited funds from the federal and state governments.

White Ribbon’s aim is to prevent all forms of disrespect and violence which women experience and works with both male ambassadors and female advocates (including survivors of domestic violence), to raise awareness and create change. Through education, awareness raising, preventative programs and partnerships, White Ribbon provide the tools for men to stop violence against women in their community and beyond.

Alongside its own activities, White Ribbon works with many other domestic violence, family safety and community organisations to ensure that Australia has a connected response to the unacceptable levels of violence in our community.

White Ribbon Day is the most well-known bystander campaign day to prevent violence against women in Australia. But it is part of the all year round social change movement that is bringing about positive change.

White Ribbon thanks all supporters for their commitment to building a safer Australia for women and their children.

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Reiterating Women’s Reproductive Rights: White Ribbon Australia Position Statement

The Board of White Ribbon Australia authorised the publication on 23 February 2017 of White Ribbon’s position statement in relation to women’s reproductive and sexual health. This was in the context of moves being made in NSW and Queensland to decriminalise abortion which – provided legal requirements and protections are observed – is not a crime in the other six Australian jurisdictions.

In the light of recent public comments about White Ribbon’s statement, whether from misunderstandings or by misrepresentation, it is considered appropriate to state again White Ribbon’s position.

White Ribbon Australia supports the autonomy of women to make their own choices about their basic right to health care, including contraception and abortion. We support the decriminalisation of abortion and nationally consistent access to safe and legal abortion and support for women throughout the process and afterwards. This is one way to address reproductive coercion, which is an aspect of men’s violence against women which White Ribbon seeks to prevent.

In light of recent comments it is necessary to state that White Ribbon is not advocating for “unlimited abortion to birth”, “the active killing of … vulnerable babies”, “full-term abortion” or the “systematic killing of children in the womb”. The words “safe and legal” abortion are in the statement and we recognise that it is possible to create a regime that appropriately regulates access to such a procedure and provides necessary protections for all concerned: as has been done – with some differences – in the other Australian jurisdictions. Experience has shown that late-term abortions in those places are rare, often carried out for the protection of the woman’s life or in some other emergency situation.

White Ribbon Australia endorses its previous statement. It regrets that this is considered unacceptable by some of its supporters. It thanks them for their support of our core work and urges them to reconsider their position in the light of this further explication of our approach.

Nicholas Cowdery, AM QC Chair, White Ribbon Australia

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