Ambassador Q&A: Ivan Phillips
Through great loss, White Ribbon Ambassador Ivan Phillips has been able to inspire many with his story and advocacy in the fight against domestic violence.
What is your day job?
I am the Program Manager at the Department of State Development, South Australia
How long have you been a White Ribbon Ambassador?
Why did you decide to become an Ambassador?
In 2007, my step daughter, Tash, was murdered in Adelaide as a result of horrendous domestic violence abuse. Losing a child under any circumstances is a tragic event, but when there is a perpetrator involved it just makes the loss unfathomable. Since that time, my wife and I remained very private about our loss, choosing to try and heal the best we could. This was not to be, however, as my wife passed away from cancer, a condition that I have no doubt was triggered in some form by the loss of our daughter.
Now that I am alone, I decided that I needed to teach myself to talk about the events leading up to losing Tash, the coping mechanisms, dealing with the media, police and public prosecution, followed by what my life looks like after losing a child. My workplace gave me the opportunity to apply for the White Ribbon Ambassador role and now I am able to speak about my loss and also try and influence men’s behaviour and attitudes towards women, primarily through my speaking engagements.
In what ways have you been involved in the White Ribbon Campaign?
I have been fortunate enough to tell “My Story” to several large sized audiences and have been amazed at the levels of emotion created by my speech. The purpose of the speech is to tell a true account of an act most abhorrent and from this raise awareness that none of us are immune from this social scourge. “My Story” is both emotional and confronting and hard for me to retell. But I also realise that it is this honesty that resonates with people and that this is the best way to get the message out.
In July of this year, I will be riding a motorcycle solo and circumnavigating Australia to raise awareness for the White Ribbon Campaign and to tell “My Story” along the way. The trip will encompass some 15,000Kms and visit every mainland state in Australia.
I needed to do something that was going to be positive, live and interactive to raise the levels of awareness, hence my ride, “Riding Free of DV”, has evolved. Read more about my ride by visiting MyCause.com.au and searching “Ivan Phillips”.
Why is Gender Equality important to you as an Ambassador?
Gender equality sets the tone for society’s norms. I had the choice of many male motorcycling legends to Champion my “Riding Free of DV” project but choose to approach a young lady who has reached the pinnacle in her career in a predominately male dominated field. I have been fortunate enough to secure Orianthi as the patron for my ride. She is rated by Carlos Santana as one of the best female guitarists on the planet. Born in Adelaide, she moved over to the USA and was Michael Jackson’s lead guitarist until his passing.
What a privilege to have such a fantastic young role model to head up my “Riding Free of DV” ride and also to promote the White Ribbon cause internationally!
What goals do you hope to accomplish as an Ambassador in the future?
- To stay upright and not fall off my motorbike in croc infested river crossings
- To garner an audience through my ride and to use the national stage to promote the White Ribbon cause and the need for men to change their attitudes and behaviour towards women
- To continue to tell “My Story” to as many groups as I can to drive home the message that violence towards women is NOT OK
- To spearhead efforts to ensure that the Department of State Development, South Australia, remain a workplace that is White Ribbon accredited and that staff adopt the code of ethics outlined in our new policies