In December 2017, White Ribbon Ambassadors were asked to participate in an online survey. This was the first time we ran this survey, which will be conducted annually as part of the ongoing work we do to measure the impact of White Ribbon programs.
Over 350 Ambassadors (about 33% of all Ambassadors) responded to the survey. Most respondents were aged over 45 and had been Ambassadors for between one to six years. Thanks to the respondents, it has been possible to gain valuable insights for future development of the Ambassador program and enhance the role that Ambassadors play in preventing men’s violence against women.
What Ambassadors are doing
1. Ambassadors are engaged in primary prevention activities and they largely influence the context where they act and the people they encounter.
Over 80% of respondents attended a White Ribbon community event during the 12 months prior to the survey. Moreover, almost 40% of respondents attended White Ribbon Ambassador events such as training, seminars and workshops. More than 59% of respondents have presented or spoken at a White Ribbon event, and:
nearly 51% of respondents had presented or spoken at a violence prevention event with another organisation.
2. Ambassadors have an important role promoting the engagement of other men in the prevention of men’s violence against women.
The majority of Ambassadors who responded the survey (94.4%) have actively encouraged people and organisations in their networks to get involved in the prevention of men’s violence against women. 60% of Ambassadors who responded to the survey showed high levels of satisfaction with their personal efforts to engage men in the prevention of men’s violence against women.
Participants in the survey felt that White Ribbon programs offer good opportunities for engaging men. Moreover, Ambassadors found it easier to engage men at the workplace and in everyday life circumstances, leveraging their interpersonal skills, motivation, perseverance and willingness to know more about the issue. However, engaging men is challenging; it demands Ambassadors make time to dedicate to the cause and find opportunities to expand their network. Also, Ambassadors must learn how to cope in different contexts and with different audiences.
3. Ambassadors are active agents for the development of healthier concepts of masculinity and promote bystander actions to other men.
95% of Ambassadors who answered the survey have encouraged and supported men to be active bystanders, following the White Ribbon call to stand up, act and speak out.
Approximately 83% have discussed masculinities with other men and 72% have supported men to develop alternative concepts of masculinity and explore what it means to be a man.
What Ambassadors Think
Ambassadors contribute to creating well-informed communities, helping prevent men’s violence against women and appropriately respond to women affected by violence .
In order to promote social change, Ambassadors are expected to gain (over time) a better awareness of men’s violence against women, improve their knowledge about what constitutes violence against women and understand where to find help. While the majority of respondents (83.2%) strongly agree that violence against women is a national issue, there is still space for increasing awareness around the national support that is available.
Physical violence is the most often recognised form of violence, with 99.4% of respondents identifying it as a type of domestic violence. Recognition of non-physical forms of abuse was lower, despite their ability to cause significant harm to the victim. This result is similar to population-level studies of people’s awareness of different forms of violence, e.g. the 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey (NCAS) data found that women are more likely to identify financial abuse than men, with 78% of women agreeing that controlling a partner by denying them money is an example of partner violence compared to 63% of men.
The second most recognised form of violence is when one partner controls the social life of the other, with 92.6% of respondents always agreeing that this is a form of violence.
91.4% of Ambassadors who answered the survey agreed that one partner deciding what clothes their partner wears, where they spend their money and who they see as forms of violence. Financial control in the relationship is the least recognised form of violence, with 89.1% of respondents always agreeing that it is a form of domestic violence.
2. Ambassadors are responsible for enhancing attitudes that are supportive of gender equality. For example, attitudes towards decision-making in relationships, which influence the formation of attitudes towards respectful and equal relationship.
Attitudes towards decision-making in relationships influence the formation of attitudes towards gender equality and attitudes that support violence against women. Preventing violence against women means that we acknowledge the relationship between attitudes and violence, and the importance of having respectful relationships.
The survey explored men’s attitude towards the statement “Women prefer a man to be in charge of the relationship”. Attitudes supportive of male decision-making in relationships is identified as a risk factor for partner violence. Most Ambassadors did not agree with this statement: 76% of respondents strongly disagreed with the statement, and about 12% were either neutral or agreed with the statement. In 2013 “up to 28% of Australians endorsed attitudes supportive of male dominance of decision-making in relationships, a dynamic identified as a risk factor for partner violence” (NCAS 2014, p.6).
3. Ambassadors have the opportunity to be active bystanders when they hear a sexist joke and they challenge it.
Some people consider sexist jokes an innocent form of humour, however they are a symptom of a community with negative attitudes towards women. Sexist jokes are a form of sexism that can involve the sexual objectification of women, devalue women’s abilities and indirectly support men’s violence against women.
Ambassadors have a low tolerance for sexist jokes: when a sexist joke is told in a mixed group, 75.5% of respondents do not find it acceptable and almost 22% of respondents rarely find it acceptable. It can be difficult to intervene and challenge when you hear a sexist joke and the Ambassadors expressed the need for having more guidance around this.
Feedback on WR from Ambassadors
1. Ambassadors suggested areas where there is space for further improvement of the program.
Ambassadors expressed the need for enhancing connectivity at the local level and expanding their network. They were also keen to increase their knowledge and are interested in regular educational resources and training. Developing and promoting resources that clearly and effectively present the White Ribbon message is also crucial.
2. Ambassadors are in general aware of the resources provided by White Ribbon.
The White Ribbon Ambassador Newsletter is the most used resource, with 78.5% of respondents reporting they have used this. This is followed by the eLearning training course, used by 70.5% of the respondents. The eLearning is also the most appreciated resource. The third most known and used resource is the White Ribbon Ambassador Resource portal, used by 67.6% of the respondents. The White Ribbon Ambassador PowerPoint presentation and the White Ribbon STOP tool kit are the least used and least known resources. The majority of respondents (86.4%) were also satisfied with the quality of communication they receive from White Ribbon.
Ambassador Team’s Response to Findings
As a social movement, it is crucial for White Ribbon to know the perspective of people involved in the grassroots action and to be responsive to them. This is partly facilitated by the Social Impact Measurement Framework that collects data from Ambassadors through the annual Ambassadors survey and other sources. The framework is used internally to ensure the program is achieving positive outcomes. We also share this information externally to contribute to the growing evidence base on the role men play in preventing men violence against women.
In response to the survey findings, the Ambassadors team is exploring and testing ways to improve the program. The development of educational resources that target Ambassadors and Advocates, focusing on bystander interventions and responding to disclosures, and strengthening the connections between Ambassadors and the local communities are priority areas.
This year, the Ambassador Program Welcome Dinner offered opportunities for new Ambassadors to build connections. To extend this to all Ambassadors, the team is exploring ways to create a mentoring system that helps Ambassadors connect and share their experiences.
If you are interested in knowing more about the survey results, please contact the Ambassadors team.
 VicHealth. (2014). Australians’ Attitudes to Violence Against Women. p. 2
 Webster et al., op. cit., pps. 34, 59.
 About the National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey (NCAS); Section: Why survey attitudes and knowledge?
 This question was derived from the NCAS question on gender equality attitudes towards decision making in relationships.
 ibid., p. 92.
 Thomae, M. & Pina, A. (2015). ‘Sexist humor and social identity: the role of sexist humor in men’s in-group cohesion, sexual harassment, rape proclivity, and victim blame’, Humor, 28(2): 187-204, p. 191.