By Peter Gardiner
Samaritans Chief Executive Officer

White Ribbon Day on the 25th of November presents a powerful opportunity to raise awareness of men’s violence against women and to reflect on how we can do better as individuals and a community to combat this abhorrent behaviour that is devastating our nation.

Men’s violence against women is a complex, complicated and wide ranging issue involving a multitude of factors embedded in our culture, our laws, our economy and most intractably, in our cultural constructions of masculinity. It is because of the latter that men must both be addressed and involved in the effort to change attitudes and behaviours that allow this to happen in order to establish positive culture change.

White Ribbon Australia is committed to driving cultural change amongst Australian men and challenging the attitudes and behaviours in some men that ignites disrespect towards women.  What makes White Ribbon unique is that it works through the engagement of men, communicating with other men, about an issue where they are both part of the problem and the solution. This work has built on the amazing efforts of so many women in so many parts of the globe to stand up for their rights and to fight to have those recognised.

Samaritans is leading the way locally as the first Hunter-based workplace to be accredited in the White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation program.  I am proud of our staff who have taken active and effective steps forward to ensure our workplace prevents men’s violence against women and in particular to the male staff who have stepped up to become White Ribbon Ambassadors.  The staff-led White Ribbon Committee was formed to drive positive organisational action and empower all staff to stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women. Together, we are making a difference and shifting attitudes to create a culture where violence against women is simply never condoned.

As White Ribbon Day approaches, I ask you to consider the steps you can take to stand up and stop violence against women; not just on this day but every day. I encourage you to safely challenge negative behaviour, to talk to friends and colleagues about the issue and lead by example at home, in the workplace and in the community. If you witness a violent act, there are ways you can make a positive difference without endangering your own safety – by calling the police, asking others who are nearby to help or offering support to someone who needs it.  You can take a stand by taking the White Ribbon Oath. I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.

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