I have always been interested in people and how we relate to one another. Relationships based on respect, thoughtfulness and equality are clearly better for all of us, as individuals and as a society.
But it is not like this for everyone. The facts and statistics about domestic violence are shocking: one in three Australian women have suffered physical or sexual abuse at some point, and one in four children are exposed to domestic violence.* It is also an issue which affects nearly every part of our society.
I initially became very aware of the wide-reaching impacts of violence against women through the work my wife does as a collaborative family lawyer and mediator. As my awareness grew, I was motivated to see what more I could do to address this issue. Becoming a White Ribbon Ambassador seemed the obvious next step.
When people learn that I am a White Ribbon Ambassador, it often starts a conversation about what domestic violence is and why it happens. For me, it is through these conversations that I am able to share information about the stark reality of how widespread it is. They also offer me the opportunity to sometimes gently challenge views about what constitutes domestic violence (it can extend to controlling behaviour and financial abuse). A lot of the time too, I hear personal stories that test my own biases; this means I continually increase my understanding on the magnitude of the issue.
I am also proud to be one of Telstra’s White Ribbon Champions. We are proud to be an accredited White Ribbon workplace and partner, which demonstrates our commitment to addressing domestic violence as a workplace issue. In 2016, we launched our Global Family and Domestic Violence Support policy to provide support, including additional paid leave, for Telstra employees experiencing violence, no matter where they are based in the world.
In addition to being a White Ribbon Partner, Telstra supports WESNET, a national women’s peak advocacy body focused on women and children affected by domestic and family violence. In violent, abusive and controlling situations, having a safe and secure means of communication can be critical, particularly when leaving an abusive relationship.
On a personal note, since becoming a White Ribbon Ambassador I am able to take a united front with my wife in leading conversations with our three adult sons and two adult daughters about these issues. We hope these discussions will be positive for them in their personal relationships as well as enabling them to feel confident about having similar conversations with their friends.
The eradication of violence against women is really non-negotiable in my view. The more men who join me to champion an end to this pervasive issue in our society, the quicker we will see progress. I encourage everyone to support White Ribbon Day and International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Saturday 25 November to show that violence against women is never acceptable.
Visit White Ribbon Australia for more information.
*Statistics from White Ribbon Australia