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White Ribbon Day - Stop Domestic Violence

It is important that all members of the community work towards eliminating Domestic Violence from society.  

Domestic Violence comes in all shapes and sizes, and doesn't always leave a visible mark.  We need to help all victims feel brave enough to stand up against the violence and seek help. 

I recently spoke in Parliament about White Ribbon Day, below is the Hansard transcript. 

Mr WINGARD ( Mitchell ) ( 12:37 ): I also rise today in support of the member for Stuart bringing this motion before the house, recognising White Ribbon Day and encouraging all men to swear an oath to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. As we have heard here today, I do not think it is acceptable in any way, shape or form to witness or to do violence against women. It is appalling, and everyone, I think, in the house would concur with that. 

We have heard people talk about the different ways you can get involved—by becoming an ambassador, swearing the oath or buying a pin—but I really believe the White Ribbon message is one to be lived. I am proud to say that I am of a generation of men who have been very outspoken and made it very clear that violence against women is totally unacceptable. I note that it was in 1991 that this movement first originated in Canada. It is now active in more than 60 countries, and it is the largest male-led movement to end violence against women. I mention 1991 because at that time I was aged 20, and at the time I became a young adult— 

Mr Pederick interjecting: 

Mr WINGARD: Yes, you become a young adult at the age of 20. I am really fortunate, I suppose, to be part of the evolution that is speaking out against violence against women, but also of a generation that has lived the White Ribbon movement. 

The White Ribbon campaign works through primary prevention initiatives involving awareness raising and education, programs with youth, schools, workplaces and across the broader community. White Ribbon began in Australia in 2003 as a movement, as was pointed out by the member for Hartley. White Ribbon Australia observes the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day, annually on 25 November. White Ribbon Day signals the start of 16 days of activism to stop violence against women, which ends on Human Rights Day on 10 December. As we point out, it is fantastic to have these days or weeks where it is brought to the attention of the public per se, but I think it is great that we acknowledge it as something that, as I said earlier, must be lived. It is a movement that must be lived not one that is just singled out for a day or a week in a year. 

As far as violence against women goes, we have heard some of the stats and I will repeat some of them because they are worth noting just to drive home the point. Over 12 months, on average, one woman is killed every week as a result of intimate partner violence; a woman is most likely to be killed by her male partner in her home; domestic and family violence is the principal cause of homelessness for women and their children; intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill health in Australian women aged 15 to 44; one in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them; one in four children are exposed to domestic violence, which is a recognised form of child abuse; the cost of violence against women to the Australian economy is estimated to rise to $15.6 billion per annum; one in five women experience harassment in the workplace; one in five women over 18 have been stalked during their lifetime; there is increased risk of mental health, behavioural and learning difficulties from childhood exposure to intimate partner violence; children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to perpetrate this violence; domestic violence impacts on an employee's ability to perform tasks in the workplace; and violence against women in the workplace impacts on the organisational climate and employees' sense of wellbeing. 

You can see from some of those facts how damning they are and how important it is, for all the obvious reasons but for more in depth reasons, to stamp out violence against women pretty much right across the board. I have had a number of constituents come to me, which has been one of the less pleasing parts of this role since I have been a member of this place, clearly panicked and in a very distressed state about their living conditions and the threat of violence against them, people who have lived through domestic violence and people who are working very hard to remove themselves from that situation. 

On the flip side of that, I have also seen some wonderful organisations that have been working extremely hard with people in these positions. I would like to commend the Salvation Army and a number of their people who I have had through my office and worked with very closely to try to help people in situations where they feel they are under threat from domestic violence. The Salvation Army does a marvellous job in tirelessly helping people. As the member for Florey said earlier, there are people who are in a domestic situation where they feel they cannot leave their home or they have extenuating circumstances that make it very hard to leave their home and they feel they are forced to stay in a situation that is potentially threatening. It is a very disturbing place to be and they are very disturbing stories to hear. 

Working with the Salvation Army was fantastic for me, just to see these great groups like that out there helping people in these difficult situations. As I say, there are plenty of great things we get to do in this role and plenty of people we get to help, and whilst I would help anyone in those situations, when you are confronted with it and you see it it is very alarming, it is very shocking and it drives home the point of why we must support the motion the member for Stuart has put forward. I again commend him for bringing it to the attention of the house because it is something that we need to be very aware of, not only on the day (25 November) but every day of the year. We need to be very aware that whilst it is something that may not directly impact on us, there are people around us who are experiencing this and when and where we can help we really must do so. 

White Ribbon Day is about recognising the positive role that men can play in preventing violence against women. I talked about the White Ribbon movement and having lived through it as a young man, and grown into an older man now, and seeing the great work they have done. It is fantastic that the White Ribbon movement is so accepted, so understood and so acknowledged in society and it has really played a very big role in, I think, bringing this to the forefront and hopefully helping to reduce domestic violence against women. 

We talk about the movement and how important it is to recognise that domestic violence is not just perpetrated by men against women, and that is something that should also be noted at this time. Domestic violence is not just violence perpetrated by men against women. It is important to open dialogue and discussion about all types of domestic violence, so that all victims, no matter their age or gender, can feel brave enough to come forward and seek help. That is a real key and a real great initiative of what the White Ribbon movement does; they make it so that people feel comfortable and brave enough to come forward. It creates an environment for them to be able to do that. 

Domestic violence takes many shapes and forms, which include long-term psychological and emotional attacks, breaking down even the strongest of people. Not all bullies are the physically strong attacking the physically weak. Not all domestic violence involves a black eye or visible signs of abuse. Mental torture can be as damaging, and sometimes has long-lasting impacts that never heal. Not all domestic violence is perpetrated by strong men on vulnerable women. It is important that we take the time to consider that bullying comes in all shapes and sizes, and that shapes and sizes are not always what we expect. 

We must be wary of falling into the path of not only supporting those whom we typically expect to be the victims of bullying or domestic violence; we must also train our emergency services personnel, social workers, doctors, teachers and others to look for the unlikely victims, the ones who keep quiet and suffer in silence. Domestic violence is not a postcode problem. It does not just impact the poor or uneducated. It is independent of wealth, education or social standing. We must give victims of violence the courage to speak up without the fear of ridicule or disbelief. 

In closing, I would like to point out the fact I mentioned that the movement came about when I was a young man. Now, being an older man and the parent of children—two boys and two girls—I think it drives home the message even more. Having young children and knowing the impact that domestic violence has on them, it is important, again, as a role model to make sure that you can talk, as the member for Florey did, about other factors that can impact on the perception of domestic violence for young people, be they television or movies. I think as a parent it is important to keep a check on that and to make sure that there is no undue pressure or influence put on your children through those mediums or in the home. 

I conclude by saying how important it is that we not only recognise White Ribbon Day and the movement there, but that we live the White Ribbon movement every day in our society. As role models and figures in our society, it is very important that we do pass on that message in every way, shape or form that we can, to all those around us, to young people and to people in our communities. I think it is a big part of our responsibility of being in this place, and I do accept that responsibility with great honour and hope to live up to all expectations and in the future continue to be a strong advocate for White Ribbon Day. 

Mr KNOLL ( Schubert ) ( 12:48 ): It has been quite surprising how many of these confronting issues we deal with in parliament, whether it be domestic violence, prostitution or a whole host of other things. It has been difficult at times to confront and understand some of the not so nice things that exist in our society. I first of all commend the member for Stuart on this motion. Can I say how important it is for the Schubert electorate. In a previous motion brought to this place on domestic violence, there was a broad discussion, and I said at the time that there are approximately 150 families in my electorate who have instances where domestic violence has been perpetrated against women—150 families. I keep repeating that figure, because it is not good enough. It is something that my community needs to grapple with, get over, deal with and move on. 

To that end, I believe that my role as a local leader is to get involved and do what I can. Something small I am going to do tomorrow morning is be out at the Nuri Foodland, or the co-op, as we call it in the Barossa, for my local White Ribbon Day barbecue. I look forward to serving sausages and providing a gentle reminder to all those with whom we come into contact that this is not okay and that as a community we are doing what we can to move on. 

But there is more that I would like to do, and I have been lucky enough to be working with the Northern Domestic Violence Service and also the police, my local LSA, to help change this culture. I think it is important that we find ways to actively change the culture, and White Ribbon Day is certainly part of it, but, as previous speakers have said, it cannot just be confined to one day or a week: it has to be a constant focus. 

What I am going to do with my local NDVS and police is go out into community groups and spread the message, encouraging young people to sign up to the pledge to help bring about generational change in the culture and the way that we deal with domestic violence. We are hoping to go into local sporting clubs and predominantly male-dominated sporting clubs, giving them the message that this is not okay and that our generation and the next generation are going to be at the forefront helping to stamp this out of Australian and South Australian culture. 

We need as a society, and especially as men, to stand up and say it is not good enough. We need to call it what it is. We need to not stand idly by. The motion brought forward today deals with all those things and it is fantastic that we can debate it in this place, but it does need to translate into action. That is why I thought I would put on the record a couple of the things I am doing in my local community to try to address this problem so that it is not just about politicians getting up and speaking in parliament but that it is about real action and real effective change that helps to improve the culture of this beautiful place we call home. 

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