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Creating a safer future on university campuses

(As published in The Australian on August 2, 2017)

White Ribbon welcomes yesterday’s release of the Change the Course report by the Australian Human Rights Commission into university students’ experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault.

This robust national survey is very timely given the reluctance of the tertiary sector to formally acknowledge and respond to the issue that has for decades existed across our university campuses. This study has brought to the forefront some alarming figures — namely, that one in five students experienced sexual harassment in a university setting in 2016. Additionally, women were found to have been three times more likely than men to have experienced sexual assault.

This data confirms what we’ve known for some time. Women are more likely to experience sexual harassment and sexual assault than men, and the drivers of this are the same that lead to domestic violence. As a community we have broken the silence about this insidious issue that permeates our domestic life in Australia.

Focusing on its occurrence in other settings is critical to the wellbeing of our whole community and to continuing to preventing it from happening in the first place and support those affected. To prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault we need to address the culture, attitudes and behaviours of young people so that we do not normalise or tolerate abusive, disrespectful behaviours that perpetuate gender power imbalances and gender inequality.

Universities must be safe places, where students and staff participate in an educative environment that is equitable and supportive. The current status quo, as outlined in the report, is unacceptable.

The issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault in university environments reflect what is happening in our broader community. They impact wider society, encompassing schools, workplaces and homes. While some universities have taken positive steps taken to address sexual harassment and sexual assault, these efforts need to be more focused and build on what is evidenced as working to drive and deliver change. They must take a holistic, committed and universal approach.

Recent independent evaluation of White Ribbon’s workplace accreditation program data highlights the positive impact that prevention initiatives have on behaviours. The data demonstrates the effectiveness of working with workplaces and learning environments to broaden understandings of gender based violence and abuse, create respectful relationships and build people’s confidence to be active bystanders and take action when they witness violence or become aware of it.

Universities are now in a position where they need to address gender inequality, abuse and disrespect. Change can be made through strategic programs, that create positive learning environments supported by policy and procedures which highlight approaches to prevention, support victims of harassment and assault, allow bystanders to report incidents and hold perpetrators accountable.

We stand beside the individuals and organisations who have advocated tirelessly to bring this issue into the spotlight. We acknowledge and commend the 39 Australian universities for taking this critical step to advance understanding of the exact nature and extent of this issue, and encourage all tertiary institutions to use this as a catalyst for change.

Working together we can create a safer future, free of all forms of harassment and assault.

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White Ribbon’s Position on Paid Domestic Violence Leave

White Ribbon Australia strongly advocates for the provision of paid domestic violence leave in modern awards. The White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation Program is a key primary prevention initiative that is driving evidenced positive social and cultural workplace change. In meeting requirements under the Workplace Accreditation Program organisations must evidence provision for domestic violence leave.

This is vital because most women experiencing intimate partner violence are in paid work[1]. Whether happening in a person’s private or professional life, violence against women impacts on women’s health, safety, productivity and capacity to do their work[2]. Paid domestic violence leave supports women experiencing violence and can be an economic and social lifeline for women leaving a violent relationship.

We support the ongoing campaign, led by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), to grant paid domestic violence leave to all workers. This position was ratified by the White Ribbon Australia Board at its meeting on 30 July 2015. We are disappointed that the Fair Work Commission did not approve this plan in its decision handed down earlier this month. However, in approving unpaid domestic violence leave for modern awards, the Fair Work Commission has taken the first step. We commend the ACTU for the success of their campaign to date and will continue to advocate for the social and economic value of paid domestic violence leave for all workers.

[1] McFerran, L (2011) Safe at Home Safe at Work? National Domestic Violence and the Workplace survey, Centre for Gender Related Violence Studies, UNSW p.11

[2] Murray, S. & Powell, A. (2008). Working it out: Domestic violence issues and the workplace. Sydney, Australia: Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/1sfroKv p.4

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White Ribbon’s Statement on Sam Thaiday’s comments

White Ribbon Australia along with its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group wish to share the following statement about comments made by Sam Thaiday on Channel 9’s The Footy Show:

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women from the White Ribbon Reference Group would like to send a clear message that inappropriate comments or jokes similar to the comments made by Sam Thaiday sadly reinforce negative behaviour and attitudes towards women. It is important that we continue to challenge unacceptable behaviours in our community and it is comforting to see so many people on social media condemning Sam comments. It’s also important links between banter and violence are understood.  Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised from violence than non-indigenous women.”

Chair of White Ribbon Australia, Nicholas Cowdery AM QC, has also responded to Sam’s comments:

“Sam Thaiday’s comments were unacceptable, as both playing upon racial stereotypes and demeaning women as objects for the excitement of men, rather than as equal and fully autonomous beings. This illustrates the power of disrespectful language, especially when used by role models to young men, to demean women and reinforce abuse supportive attitudes in our society. That it might have been intended as humorous or flippant is no defence.

We need all men to be role models in their behaviours including the use of language, standing up, speaking out and acting, to build a society based on respect, fairness and gender equality.”

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White Ribbon Australia accredits its largest group of workplaces working to end men’s violence against women

White Ribbon Australia accredits its largest group of workplaces working to end men’s violence against women

Today, White Ribbon Australia celebrates the accreditation of twenty-seven organisations as White Ribbon Workplaces. This brings the total number of White Ribbon accredited workplaces in Australia to 107. A further 78 workplaces are currently working towards accreditation. So far the White Ribbon Accreditation Program has reached over 600,000 Australians via their workplace.

Over the past eighteen months, these organisations have undertaken rigorous training, having satisfied fifteen assessment criteria under three separate standards. They have demonstrated effective leadership, resource allocation, communication, HR policy development and training to create a safer and more respectful workplace.

White Ribbon Australia celebrates the largest group of accredited workplaces to complete its Workplace Accreditation Program. This cohort features a diverse cross-section of organisations, from local councils to a multinational.

“We congratulate all the workplaces receiving accreditation today on their extraordinary effort and dedication,” said Libby Davies, Chief Executive of White Ribbon Australia.

“These organisations have committed time and resources to review and enhance their HR policies, procedures and the way in which they communicate with staff. They have delivered training to managers and staff on what it means to work in a safe and respectful workplace.

“Workplace Accreditation gives employers across all sectors the means to create and sustain a working environment based on equality and mutual respect. The benefits of standing up and speaking out about men’s violence against women extend beyond the immediate office environment.” concluded Ms Davies.

Accreditation lasts for three years and evidences an ongoing, sustainable commitment to the prevention of violence against women.

FACT SHEET FOLLOWS – List of new accredited organisations + evidence based facts on violence against women and the rationale for workplace participation in addressing violence against women.

*** ENDS ***

Media & Interview requests

White Ribbon Australia CEO, Libby Davies is available for interview. The White Ribbon Australia Workplace Program video is available upon request.

Contact: Irina Kamychnikova on 0426 221 550 OR Jenny Muir on 0415 401 200

 Organisation  Region
Royal Australian Air Force National
Virgin Australia National
Social Futures NSW
Mid North Coast Local Health District NSW
Samaritans Foundation – Diocese of Newcastle NSW
NSW Police NSW
QLD Department of Communities, Child Safety & Disability Services QLD
Tablelands Sexual Assault Service QLD
Renewal SA SA
SA Ambulance Service SA
SA Environment Protection Authority SA
SA Country Health SA Local Health Network SA
People’s Choice Credit Union SA
Australian Refugee Association SA
SA Metropolitan Fire Services SA
SA Southern Adelaide Local Health Network SA
SA Northern Adelaide Local Health Network SA
SA Women’s and Children’s Local Health Network SA
Fuji Xerox Business Centre Tasmania TAS
Benetas (Anglican Aged Care Services Group) VIC
Surf Coast Shire Council VIC
Magistrates’ Court of Victoria VIC
Waverley Industries Limited VIC
Centacare, Catholic Diocese of Ballarat VIC
Benalla Health VIC
The Royal Women’s Hospital VIC
Aboriginal Housing Victoria VIC


Highlights

  • Virgin Australia joins DP World Australia and Telstra as multinational organisations who have Australian operations already accredited by White Ribbon. Virgin is the first airline in Australia to be accredited as a White Ribbon Workplace.
  • Mid North Coast Local Health District is the first health district in NSW to become accredited
  • NSW Police joins: NT Police; SA Police; TAS Police, Fire and Emergency Services as White Ribbon Workplaces
  • QLD Department of Communities, Child Safety & Disability Services joins: WA Department of Child Protection and Family Support, NSW Department of Family & Community Services and NT Department of Local Government and Community Services

About White Ribbon Australia

The White Ribbon Campaign is the largest global male-led movement to stop violence against women.  It engages and enables men and boys to lead this social change.  In Australia, White Ribbon is an organisation that works to prevent violence by changing the attitudes and behaviours that support gender inequality and men’s violence against women. The prevention work is driven through social marketing, the Ambassador Program and prevention initiatives with communities, schools, universities, sporting codes and workplaces.

About Violence against Women and the Workplace  

  • One in three women experience physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them. [1]
  • One in five women experience harassment within the workplace. [2]
  • 94% of employees agree employers should take a leadership role in educating their workplace about respectful relationships between men and women. [3]
  • In a recent survey, 48% of respondents who had experienced domestic violence disclosed it to a manager or supervisor, and only 10% found their response helpful. [4]
  • Disclosure is often a traumatic experience for victims of violence, but it can also be a stressful time for supervisors receiving the disclosure. Training and support is critical.
  • The Australian Government estimates that domestic violence costs the business and corporate sector about $1.5 billion per annum. The direct cost to employers in terms of staff absenteeism, lost productivity replacement staff costs and misused workplace resources is estimated to cost $465 million per annum. [5]

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013). Personal Safety, Australia, 2012

[2] Australian Human Rights Commission (2008). Sexual Harassment Guide.

[3] Pennay, D & Powell, A. (2012).  The role of bystander knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in preventing violence against women: A full technical report.  The Social Research Centre. Melbourne.

[4] VicHealth, 2009, National Survey on Community Attitudes to Violence Against Women. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.

[5] National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (2009). The cost of violence against women and their children.

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UN Special Rapporteur Violence against Women

United Nations Special Rapporteur Dubravka Šimonović visited Australia from 13 to 27 February 2017 gathering first-hand information about from a wide range of stakeholders, including women survivors assessing laws, policies and services to prevent and combat gender based violence. .

White Ribbon Australia was part of a 28-strong roundtable with representatives from NGOs across the sector attending the Sydney Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Consultation with Ms Šimonović, hosted by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The meeting was part of Ms Šimonović’s 15-day tour of Australia, which included visits to Canberra, Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane, Cherbourg, Alice Springs, Adelaide and Melbourne. Ms Šimonović’s focus discussions and review will lead to the recommendation of measures, ways and means at the national, regional and international levels, to eliminate violence against women and its causes, and to remedy its consequences.

During the session, White Ribbon highlighted to Ms Šimonović:
• the importance of positive engagement of men in addressing men’s violence against women
• the need for men to recognise and acknowledge their role in ending men’s violence against women
• the critical role of primary prevention and how this work can be supported alongside support services

White Ribbon stressed the important of men being included and positively engaged in discussions regarding prevention, response and critical research in this area.

As part of White Ribbon Australia’s advocacy work, the social movement continues to advocate for the positive, constructive role of men in addressing men’s violence against women, the need for broader support including at government level for prevention and adequate funding for critical support services for those experiencing violence and perpetrators. We enable and encourage Ambassadors to use their own spheres of influence and advocate for the prevention of violence against women, thus increasing male participation and perspective in the national conversation.

Ms. Šimonović will present a report with final findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in June 2017.

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Ambassador Program Communique

Thank you for your interest in White Ribbon Australia’s Ambassador Program.

White Ribbon Australia, as part of the global White Ribbon movement, engages men to make women’s safety a man’s issue too.

Our vision is to have a nation that respects women, in which every woman lives in safety, free from all forms of men’s abuse. We focus on primary prevention: stopping the violence before it starts.

As part of the ongoing development of the Ambassador Program in 2017, and in conjunction with the finalisation of the Ambassador Re-committal process, please be advised that we are currently not recruiting Ambassadors and as a result no new White Ribbon Ambassadors applications will be accepted until after July 2017. By this time the recommittal process will be complete and we will have also reviewed the Program Model ready for the launch of its revised approach. This follows ongoing development of the Program in the first part of this year and consultation with key stakeholders.

In the meantime and as part of your White Ribbon journey, we encourage interested individuals to undertake our eLearning course Understanding Men’s Violence Against Women and familiarise themselves with White Ribbon key educational materials, which includes our updated fact sheets, and online video content. http://elearning.whiteribbon.org.au/

Furthermore, we encourage you to visit the links below for information, and resources on how to engage and support your community in preventing men’s violence against women:

We continue to broaden the opportunities for men to play an active role in their communities and become part of the White Ribbon social change movement working to prevent men’s violence against women.  We encourage you to share your feedback, stories and journeys on how best you think this can be achieved.

Thank you again for enquiring about the White Ribbon Ambassador Program and we look forward to your ongoing support and to sharing with you the redeveloped program in July 2017. In the meantime we will be providing regular up-dates on ongoing developments.

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False information about White Ribbon does nothing to prevent violence against women.

Earlier this week, Miranda Devine and Bettina Arndt spoke on 2GB about White Ribbon Australia. Preventing violence against women is not well served by sensational journalism that spreads falsehoods about the White Ribbon social change movement. Publication of information that is blatantly wrong is a perpetuation of attitudes and behaviours that fuel misunderstandings and turn myths into seeming truths. In order to clarify these false statements, we have put together key information about White Ribbon. These are the facts.

The misconception:

  • That White Ribbon receives a wealth of funding from the government.

The reality:

  • White Ribbon Australia receives less than 10% of our funding from a mix of local, state, and federal governments. We are 90% funded by the community, relying on donations and fundraising to drive social change, and challenge attitudes and behaviours that can lead to men’s violence against women. We deliberately avoid reliance on government funding so that critical funds can be directed towards tertiary services.

The misconception:

  • That White Ribbon hates men.

The reality:

  • White Ribbon is not anti-men and clearly states that only some men are violent and abusive towards women. White Ribbon is anti-men’s violence against women. We strive to realise a nation that respects women, in which every woman lives in safety free from all forms of men’s abuse. We work to achieve gender equality, reframe masculinity, combat patriarchy and foster social justice and the right of all to live a life free from violence.

 The misconception:

  • That White Ribbon is a domestic violence prevention charity.

The reality:

  • White Ribbon is a not-for-profit that seeks to end men’s violence against women. Whilst domestic violence makes up a significant percentage of such violence, it can also include a range of different types of abuse that are not in the home – they may be in the workplace, in schools, on the street or in other social settings.

The misconception:

  • White Ribbon does not care about front-line services such as shelters, or other forms of tertiary prevention.

The reality:

  • White Ribbon’s focus is on primary prevention – stopping the problem before it starts, by challenging the deeply ingrained attitudes, social norms and power inequalities that give rise to men’s violence against women. By stopping violence before it occurs, we hope that in the future there will be no need for tertiary services for victims and survivors of violence. We advocate for support of and funds to support the critical work of frontline services.

The misconception:

  • White Ribbon is simply an awareness campaign designed to make people feel like they are making a difference by just wearing a ribbon.

The reality:

  • The wearing of a ribbon symbolises support for the prevention of violence against women. Understanding the issue and breaking the silence is made possible through public awareness campaigns. White Ribbon also drives prevention programs in schools – respectful relationships education; and in workplaces – workplace accreditation; through training and e-Learning, providing resources to and supporting the community; and all based on research.
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White Ribbon in the Australia Day 2017 Honours List

Congratulations to the following White Ribbon Ambassadors recognised in the 2017 Australian Day Honours for their outstanding contribution to Australian society.

White Ribbon acknowledges the recognition through these awards of the significant contribution these White Ribbon Ambassadors have made to enrich our community across a broad range of professional, public and community service sectors.

Their dedication and commitment has built and strengthened the White Ribbon social change movement through the engagement and support of men are active advocates for changing the social norms, attitudes and behaviours that are at the root of men’s violence against women. We particularly acknowledge the outstanding leadership of Andrew O’Keefe. As part of the founding Board and inaugural chair of White Ribbon, Andrew  has provided dedicated and inspirational leadership vital to establishing the solid foundations of this now strong movement for positive social change. He continues to inspire and engage to further the vital work engaging men, working alongside women, to prevent men’s violence against women and drive towards a gender equal Australia.

Australia Day 2017 Honours List

Order of Australia:

  • Mr Andrew Patrick O’Keefe
  • Mr Kenneth Douglas Lay APM
  • Mr David Ingle Thodey
  • Dr. Martin Parkinson

List of Public Service Medal Recipients:

  • Superintendent Mark Andrew Wright
  • Detective Senior Sergeant Troy Derek Thomson
  • Senior Sergeant Danny Hilton Russell

Distinguished and Conspicuous:

  • Rear Admiral Trevor Norman Jones AO CSC RAN (Retd)

Young Citizen of the Year (Fairfield)

  • Fadi Aluboodi

Young Citizen of the Year (City Charles Sturt)

  • Arman Abrahimzadeh

Community Contribution Award (Hills)

  •     Superintendent Robert Critchlow
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White Ribbon Statement Regarding NSW Domestic and Family Violence Prevention and Early Intervention Strategy

White Ribbon Australia welcomes the release of the NSW Domestic and Family Violence Prevention and Early Intervention Strategy 2017-2021 (the Strategy).

We commend the focus of the NSW Government on primary prevention, particularly the acknowledgement of the importance of intersectionality and the value of whole-of-government approaches to achieving social change.

The associated financial contribution of $20 million through the Domestic and Family Violence Innovation Fund is an important step forward in supporting a traditionally underfunded area of responses to domestic and family violence.

The Strategy is ambitious and achieving change across the priority areas will require significant investment. White Ribbon urges the NSW Government to ensure the funds are allocated to proven organisations, programs and initiatives in order to avoid duplication and maximise effective use of resources. Importantly, this contribution must not be made at the expense of continued and increased funding for tertiary services, which remain critically underfunded.

White Ribbon is committed to working with the NSW Government to realise the goals of The Strategy. We look forward to hearing more about the projects that the Government wants to commit to through The Strategy.

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