Indigenous communities and leaders throughout Australia and the Torres Strait are uniting in solidarity by holding a number of White Ribbon Day breakfasts and marches on Wednesday to show the nation they mean business when it comes to stopping the scourge of domestic violence.
NITV Staff Writer

25 Nov 2015 - 12:47 PM  UPDATED 25 Nov 2015 - 1:11 PM

Northern Territory Police and ambassadors will participate in a White Ribbon Solidarity March on Wednesday in the Alice Springs town centre, while Darwin-based businesses will hold their own White Ribbon Day events.

In the Tiwi Islands, the Pirlangimpi community hosted a White Ribbon Day march and speeches by traditional owners and local prominent community members on Tuesday, and the Milikapiti community will host activities on Thursday.

Nhulunbuy Police in conjunction with community businesses and sponsors will also run a White Ribbon fun run and obstacle course, at Hindle oval on Sunday 29 November.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda, who was appointed a 2015 White Ribbon Ambassador, has also demonstrated his support for the cause, motivating men to stand up against gender violence.

“I encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to get behind the campaign, and call on respected male community members to provide leadership in this area,” Commissioner Gooda said.

“We need to change the attitudes of young boys and men within our communities and encourage respectful and safe relationships.”

White Ribbon Day organisers say that on average more than one woman per week is killed by a current or former partner in Australia.

According to an Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) report released this year, hospitalisations for family violence-related assaults reported by female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians were 34.2 times the rate for non-Indigenous Australian females in 2012–13.

White Ribbon Day, a male-led movement now in its twelfth year, is not intended as a single day of recognition but instead works year-round with communities and schools to prevent domestic violence.

Ngukurr School in South East Arnhem Land demonstrated its commitment to speaking out against domestic violence by teaching the students the importance of healthy relationships and the dangers of domestic and family violence.

The high school students released their own music video – Break the Silence – about the issue in August this year.  

The video captures the commitment of the school and community to speak out about violence against women.

“To support our wellbeing program we reached out to Indigenous Hip Hop Projects and White Ribbon to help us create a music video which would consolidate all the great learning that was being done on this issue,” said Ngukurr High School senior teacher, Olivia Desormeaux.

Nationwide support for White Ribbon Day

More than 100,000 Australians of all cultural persuasions, genders and professions also put their name to an online campaign to speak out and act against domestic violence, as part of White Ribbon Day.

The campaign encourages supporters to “show people where you stand…and proudly wear your virtual White Ribbon” by filling in their personal details next to the 2015 pledge that states: “I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men's violence against women”.

White Ribbon Australia chair John Rosewarne applauded those who took the 2015 pledge to bring an end to men’s violence against women.

“These communities represent the critical role of collective action to drive change,” Mr Rosewarne said.  

“It is everyone’s responsibility to make this happen.

“We need ongoing action among our schools, workplaces, sporting clubs and politicians, if we are to become a society committed to respect, stopping the violence and delivering true gender equality.”

Around 500 White Ribbon Day events will take place around the country this week, with 337 being held on the day of recognition, 25 November.

Political commitment to ending the violence

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who spoke at a White Ribbon Day event at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday, said significant cultural change was needed in Australia to address violence against women.

Mr Turnbull said every man who respected his wife or partner sets an example for the young males in their lives.

He clarified that not all disrespect of women ends up in violence, but that is where all violence against women begins.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also used the occasion to announce that a Labor government would include five days paid domestic and family violence leave in the National Employment Standards.

In South Australia, Premier Jay Weatherill announced he is considering laws that would allow people to apply to authorities to see their partner's history of family abuse and other violent crimes such as murder and sex offences.

The scheme is modelled on a UK law, named Clare's Law after Clare Wood, who was raped and murdered by her partner in 2009 despite contacting police several times to report her concerns about him.

"The level of domestic violence in our community is unacceptable and the government must look at everything we can do to help prevent the tragedies we are seeing each week in Australia," Mr Weatherill said on White Ribbon Day.

Domestic violence victims working in SA's public service will also be eligible for more than two weeks of special paid leave each year.

Government employees will receive an extra 15 days of leave from early next year so they can keep their jobs while dealing with family violence.

Queensland public servants who are victims of domestic violence will be offered 10 days leave a year.

The White Ribbon Campaign is the largest global male-led movement to stop violence against women. It engages and enables men and boys to lead this social change.

The prevention work is driven through social marketing, the Ambassador Program and prevention initiatives with communities, schools, universities, sporting codes and workplaces.

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT.

In an emergency call triple-zero (000).