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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3786 ..

Nations designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This day was established to increase global awareness of the unacceptable level of violence that is committed against women and children around the world.

Nowadays 25 November is commonly referred to as White Ribbon Day. Throughout Australia dedicated organisers from the White Ribbon Foundation, as well as many volunteers, are arranging a host of events to support the campaign to end violence against women. This year I had the privilege of hosting the ACT media launch for White Ribbon Day and this year’s media campaign uses sport as its key theme. It was great to have representatives from various local sporting groups, such as the Canberra Raiders and Cricket ACT, as White Ribbon Day ambassadors at the launch. I thank the minister for sport for his support of White Ribbon Day through ACT cricket.

The television campaign advertisements which were shown feature former Wallaby Brendan Cannon, former Maroons captain Gordon Tallis and current Essendon player Jason Johnson in an advertising series called “worth the embarrassment”. These players are shown wearing a jersey of the team that they were bitter rivals with on the sporting field. Brendan Cannon wears an All Blacks jersey, Gordon Tallis a New South Wales jersey and Jason Johnson a Carlton jersey. This is an embarrassing move these players are willing to take in order to highlight to the community how seriously they take Australia’s shocking level of violence against women.

White Ribbon Day is an affirmation of the rights of all women and children to be free from violence. It also provides an opportunity for us men to stand up in opposition to violence against women. The United Nations estimate that globally more than one in three women and girls are sexually abused or beaten in their lifetime. The impact of this violence on our community is immense. The impact of this violence on individual lives is unimaginable. Violence costs women their psychological and physical wellbeing for large parts of their lives. Further, the violence maintains the gender inequalities which prevent women from reaching their potential and from participating freely in our community.

We need to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of violence against women is inflicted by men. Not all men perpetrate violence, but far too many do. And just as women from all walks of life are subjected to violence, men from all countries, all races, all religions and all socio-economic groups perpetrate violence against women. If this situation is to change, men need to be part of the solution. Men must commit to full equality for women. Respect for women is essential if we are to end violence against women. The culture of silence surrounding violence against women must be broken. We must talk about this violence, we must teach our children never to practise or condone violence and we must re-examine the current conceived connections between masculinity and violence.

As this year’s media campaign highlights, we as men need to stand up and say to other men that violence against women is absolutely unacceptable. This is the purpose of White Ribbon Day and it is central to the work of the ACT government in this area. The ACT government are committed to eliminating violence against women in all its manifestations. We are committed to a vision that every woman in the ACT lives free

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