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White Ribbon Day 2015

White Ribbon's mission is making women's safety a man's issue too.  The campaign works through primary prevention initiatives involving awareness raising and education, and programs with youth, schools, workplaces, and across the broader community.  Below is my speech on White Ribbon Day 2015. 

Mr WINGARD  ( Mitchell ) ( 12:02 :30 ): I also rise to support the motion and recognise that 25 November 2015 is White Ribbon Day, and recognise the great work of White Ribbon Australia in raising the profile of the issue of domestic violence, and note that men play an important role in helping combat domestic violence and encourage businesses, sporting groups and other community organisations to get involved with White Ribbon.

As the member for Stuart rightly pointed out, there are some very key messages that come with White Ribbon Day, and they have really broken down into three key areas. They call domestic violence 'the greatest human rights abuse in Australia.' The facts and figures that come out with this are really alarming and, as someone who has not personally been involved with domestic violence, to see and hear some of the fallout from domestic violence is quite horrendous, and it is a big reason as to why I support this cause so strongly.

The figures that at least one woman dies at the hands of a former or current male partner every week in Australia is just abhorrent, and for one in four women to experience violence by an intimate partner as well is equally as abhorrent, and that is one of the key factors that is centred around White Ribbon Day.

The member for Stuart also talked about taking the oath, and I took the oath with him last year which sparked my interest to be more involved with White Ribbon Day. As he mentioned, I am in the process of being an ambassador for White Ribbon Day, and I will talk a bit more about that process in a second. He mentioned the new oath that the White Ribbon Day organisation has put forward:

I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men's violence against women. 

I think it is a very clear, succinct message and one that we must put out there to all people in the community, in particular men, to note, and just to be aware that something little that they do can make a very big difference. Again, the White Ribbon Day organisers talk about wearing the white ribbon on White Ribbon Day, and also beyond, to make sure that you show your support for the cause and the foundation of the oath that I have just read.

I thank the member for Stuart. He endorsed me as a White Ribbon ambassador which is part of the process. It is quite a lengthy process, but one that I would highly recommend to all who are interested in doing this. There are a few steps that you have to go through, including an online survey. The survey is absolutely fantastic and a great way, again, to make people more aware about the issue but also about what you can do to help with the issue and help prevent the issue.

 

 

I must really commend Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for his great awareness and his great push for awareness of this campaign to rid Australia of domestic violence. He has made it very clear in his time since coming in as Prime Minister that he sees it as a real scourge on our society, and he is doing a lot in that space to rid Australia of the domestic violence issues that we have. I commend him again on the work that he is doing at a federal level.

Another person who I would like to highly commend and we all know about is Arman Abrahimzadeh and the work he has done. I must say that I have followed him very closely through the media and now through social media. I think this young man is doing an outstanding job to bring awareness to all people about the issues with domestic violence.

I mentioned the fact that I have not been closely associated personally with domestic violence, but when you see and hear his story and see what he and his siblings have had to live with along that line and then what happened to his mother, Zahra, at the hands of his father in front of 300 people on a dance floor at the Adelaide Convention Centre, it is just gut churning and heart wrenching all at the same time. To have actually experienced and witnessed that, and what preceded that as well no doubt for him and his siblings, would have been quite horrendous. I am only feeling this from afar. To know what he felt and what he went through, I cannot begin to imagine.

I really commend him for the way he has stood up as a young man and now, of course, he is South Australia's Young Australian of the Year and a finalist in the national competition. We really wish him all the best in that. He would be a deserving winner if he were to be Australia's Young Australian of the Year. To see what he has done as far as bringing the cause to light and making people aware of his plight and how he works as a White Ribbon ambassador is truly commendable.

I do not really get amazed, but I am fascinated, and I love to see young people in our community making a stand and a difference. For someone like Arman to have been in this situation and for him to have turned what is such an incredible negative into such a great positive, and to see him take this opportunity to set up the Zahra Foundation Australia in memory of his mother and then to be out there educating people and pushing this message, is a great example of what South Australians can do and what people can do by taking an opportunity and making a positive out of a negative.

I truly commend Arman on all the great work he has done and look forward to following him and seeing more great work and supporting him, more importantly, in the great work he does in the future. It is truly commendable and I really do admire the work he has done as a White Ribbon ambassador.

I would also like to talk about some of the people who do wonderful work with domestic violence in my community and there are quite a few. As I said, I have not had a firsthand experience personally of domestic violence, that is, someone in or around me doing something along those lines, but since I have been in this job I have had my eyes opened to a lot of cases and scenarios that are out there and got closer to these cases than probably a lot of people in the community would like.

I have worked very closely with a wonderful social worker called Kerryn Morriss from the Salvation Army in Marion who has come into my office many times. We have had many conversations with clients of hers, but for security reasons I will not divulge their names or their cases. I can say that of the people who have been in my office who we have had chats with and, thankfully, have helped on a lot of occasions, they come to you with great despair, not knowing where to turn or what to do.

Kerryn deals with a lot of the cases that do not come before me. There are countless cases that she deals with and gets a great resolution, and she helps so many people in our community. Often when she comes to me is when she does not know where to turn. We have had some great success helping out there. People in the community do not realise or understand some of the jobs that politicians do, on both sides of the chamber. They see a lot of the bickering that goes on maybe in this house and a lot of stuff in the media, but they do not see the wonderful work that is being done. I am not saying that I am the only one doing it; I know that everyone in this house does lots of work in this area.

 

 

The work we have done with Kerryn has been outstanding. I have heard some horrific stories about women being abused by their partners, and moving from location to location to try to keep their kids safe and trying to keep a safe haven for the young families, which is what we all want, and trying to keep safe themselves, which is what we all deserve and which is our right. They have to do a lot of work to find a place, set up a home, as you could understand, only to be invaded again by someone they know, and most often abused physically, verbally or mentally.

It is just heart wrenching to hear these stories, but, again, as a small aside, to be able to help is really pleasing. That is some of the great work I know that everyone in this house does. Again, I stress that Kerryn comes to me only when she genuinely has nowhere else to turn. I cannot commend her highly enough for the wonderful caring work she does, and how she backs up day after day and deals with a lot of these issues is truly amazing. I thank her very much for what she does for our community.

I have talked about the Woodend Primary School as well, because in this motion we have talked about businesses, community groups, sporting groups all working in this area, and I want to sing the praises of the Woodend Primary School and the program that some wonderful teachers ran there, which was called #WeStandTall. They worked it into social media and they worked it in with their year 6 and 7 students. It was about breaking gender stereotypes to try to prevent future domestic violence, and they used social media with #WeStandTall.

Very much like the White Ribbon campaign, it was a mini campaign, I suppose, where they really stressed, particularly to boys in the class, making a stand and to be aware of this issue. If you look at the White Ribbon website you will see they talk about this. They run through a list of some of the issues that are out there. Often, when you think about domestic violence, you just think about physical violence between two people, but there is the emotional violence that goes with it and attitudes that go with it. As you look through their website, it is quite amazing to see some of the factors that play a part in domestic violence and factors that do keep women oppressed. That is really what this White Ribbon campaign is about: it about lifting those restrictions on people and taking them out of our society.

I commend this motion to the house. As a father of four children, two boys and two girls, I cannot stress again how important this motion and the White Ribbon foundation are for the work they do to make sure that young boys and girls are very aware of domestic violence and taking it out of our society and removing it forevermore. 

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