As published in The Advertiser on Thursday 31 October.

There’s no longer a place in Australia for sexist jokes nor any other type of violence against women

A close friend of my daughter was at home when her father beat her mother to death.

I have vivid memories of that night as my wife and I sat on the end of Emilia’s bed and answered her questions about why this happened. My daughter was in Year 3.

I have told this story many hundreds of times as I’ve been invited to speak at local community groups, sporting groups and conferences, many arranged by the now defunct White Ribbon Australia.

Getting men to talk to each other about our use of violence is the aim.

At the conclusion of my presentation, I am often approached by men who want to discuss or challenge me about the message that men are responsible for their use of violence against women.

There have also been women who thank me for staying to discuss this with their male colleagues.

Before going into liquidation last month, White Ribbon Australia acted as a facilitator to make this opportunity happen.

I was able to speak to many men inside their workplaces, sporting clubs and recreation groups about prevention of male violence against women.

White Ribbon interviewed and provided resources for ambassadors. Without White Ribbon, I will not have the same access to employers and sporting groups who want to see a reduction in the rates of male violence.

There have been many critics of White Ribbon, including freelance journalist Gary Nunn, who writes that this change “requires more than eating a cheese platter, donning a ribbon and signing a meaningless pledge”.

White Ribbon’s message was clear and consumable for a wide audience. It took a complex issue and rewrote it into a language that many could understand and join.

It was agnostic as to our age, our political allegiance and our sporting codes. It was designed so that any coach or leader of a community group could make a commitment to oppose men’s use of violence against women.

And then share that commitment to boys and young men around them. Violence against women is a men’s issue.

There is no longer any place for sexist jokes nor any other type of violence against women.

It also means that the defensive retort “that we are being too politically correct” no longer cuts the mustard. With the collapse of White Ribbon, we no longer have a national body that plays a role of connector and facilitator in the community.

With the charity’s demise, who will gain the confidence of the wider community so that together we can work toward the end of men’s violence against women?

Peter McDonald
Executive Manager, Advocacy