Ambassador Q&A: Ernie Walsh
White Ribbon Ambassador Ernie Walsh shares with us how learning of violence against women from his own colleagues in the Air Force inspired him to act and get involved with White Ribbon.
What is your day job?
I’m an aerospace engineer with the Royal Australian Air Force, which I joined in 1978 after finishing year 12.
How long have you been a White Ribbon Ambassador?
I’ve been a White Ribbon Ambassador for about one year.
Why did you decide to become an Ambassador?
I’m fortunate not to have a harrowing history of violence against a close relative or friend to galvanise me into action, but after hearing the first hand story of an Air Force woman who had experienced intimate partner violence I decided to do what I could to help stop violence against women. I’m the father of a young woman in her early twenties and I want to help make the world in which she lives safer for women like her, and perhaps one day, for my grandchildren as well.
In what ways have you been involved in the White Ribbon Campaign?
As well as helping to educate Air Force personnel about White Ribbon through a series of briefings, I’ve spoken to primary school children at a Healthy Relationships day, joined other Ambassadors at the GWS Giants v Swans White Ribbon Trophy game in 2015, attended the Tuggeranong Hawks Australian Rules Football Club’s White Ribbon day with other Ambassadors and a very committed female Advocate, who is herself a survivor of intimate partner violence, and recently attended a Round Table Forum on the workplace implications of domestic and family violence.
Why is Gender Equality important to you as an Ambassador?
Gender inequality and gender bias create an environment where some men believe women are inferior and subordinate, which engenders violence, so by building a more equitable society where women can realise their full potential we will reduce the incidence of violence against women and enrich our community. Although gender equality has advanced significantly since my grandmothers were young women, we still have a long way to go until all men recognise that women are entitled to equal respect, opportunities and treatment.
What goals do you hope to accomplish as an Ambassador in the future?
My ultimate goal is to play a part in stopping violence against women. I know that will take time, but if we don’t continue the journey begun in Canada almost 25 years ago, we’ll never reach our goal. The White Ribbon campaign is a marathon, not a sprint. More immediately, I’ve applied to join the White Ribbon Capital Region Committee in the hope of identifying opportunities to make more of a contribution to the White Ribbon program.