Ambassador Q&A: Gary Merryweather
White Ribbon Ambassador Gary Merryweather brings to the role of Ambassador a wealth of experience and knowledge as Local Area Police Commander. Seeing such violence committed against women daily, Gary and his team are advocates of preventative measures.
What is your day job?
I am the Commander of Blacktown Local Area Police Command.
How long have you been a White Ribbon Ambassador?
I have been a White Ribbon Ambassador for just over 12 months.
Why did you decide to become an Ambassador?
As a police officer in the Western Suburbs of Sydney you witness the high volume and tragedy of domestic and family violence on a daily basis. Despite the best efforts of police in responding and investigating such offences it is not enough to reduce or change the behavior of men. That’s why I decided that we need to dramatically change the acceptance of domestic violence happening within our community. To do this we need to be vocal and clearly send the message that we are not going to tolerate or accept this anymore. This cannot be achieved by one voice, and so we need to come together as White Ribbon Ambassadors to yell the same message to our communities.
In what ways have you been involved in the White Ribbon Campaign?
As a White Ribbon Ambassador, I am involved by actively talking to community groups and members, informing them of the impact that domestic and family violence has upon women in physical, emotional and monetary terms. I campaign within the community of Blacktown to encourage others to jump on board and be vocal about the fact that we do not accept the violent behavior of men towards women in our community. I am also involved in numerous fundraising events to support White Ribbon and also to support the women’s support services for victims of domestic and family violence within the community.
One of the more significant events is the White Ribbon Ride for Awareness, where police and community members from the Blacktown area ride pushbikes from Newcastle to Blacktown each November to increase awareness of violence towards women and raise much needed funds along the way. This is a fantastic adventure each year where everyone on the ride also has the opportunity to share their experiences regarding men’s violence towards women.
Why is Gender Equality important to you as an Ambassador?
As a White Ribbon Ambassador, I believe gender equality is crucial to eradicating this issue as often the physical and/or emotional acts of violence towards women are based on a male belief that they hold the power in a relationship. Men need to increase their awareness regarding the issue of male entitlement – which is when men think they are entitled to something merely on the basis of their gender. Male entitlement can present in actions as simple as sitting in the front seat of the car or thinking they have two votes to a woman’s single vote in a relationship. Men need to increase their awareness of this issue to ensure true gender equality.
What goals do you hope to accomplish as an Ambassador in the future?
I will continue my work in the Blacktown area to involve local businesses and community members to stand up and firstly acknowledge that domestic and family violence is an issue within our community. Also, I will continue to stand up and spread the message that no violence towards women is acceptable under any circumstances.
From this work as a White Ribbon Ambassador and as a Police Commander I hope to significantly reduce the number of incidence of violence towards women within our community.