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Australia’s four major national sporting codes join forces to prevent violence against women

June 17 2016 By Hannah Grant, Media and Ambassador Program Manager

The Australian Football League (AFL), Australian Rugby Union (ARU), Netball Australia and the National Rugby League (NRL) have today committed to working together with Our Watch to end violence against women before it starts.

The four national sporting codes have signed a leadership statement today committing to high impact and systemic actions to prevent violence against women, such as increasing women’s participation in sport and ensuring policies and practices both internally and externally are based on respect and equality.

Our Watch Chief Executive Officer Mary Barry said that sport, while being one of a number of   contexts where prevention of violence against women initiatives have proven effective, is also a very powerful one.

“The sporting community has a huge opportunity to play an important role in preventing violence against women and their children,” said Ms Barry.

“Sporting codes, clubs and organisations bring together large numbers of people of all ages and backgrounds and are a ready-made environment to promote women’s participation and opportunities to eliminate gender-based discrimination and violence-supportive attitudes.

“I commend the AFL, NRL, ARU and Netball Australia for using their collective influence to assist in preventing the high rates of violence against women in Australia,” Ms Barry said.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said everyone has a role to play to end violence against women and their children in this country and the sporting community is not exempt.

“It is important that sport, which has such a big influence on our society, uses this influence to advocate for respect, gender equality, inclusion and non-violence on and off the field,” he said.

Sporting role models play a significant role in shaping the attitudes of young people in particular said Netball Australia CEO Kate Palmer.

“Sport is a big part of our culture and our athletes are heroes to many Australians. It is therefore crucial that athletes model the kind of fair and respectful behaviour needed to ensure we have an Australia free from disrespect and violence against women,” Ms Palmer said. 

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said the code is proud to partner with Our Watch and commit to accelerating behavioural change and education to prevent violence against women. 
“The NRL will continue to use its voice to ensure that as a code and as communities, we stand up, speak out and take action against domestic violence of any kind,” Mr Greenberg said.

“Our players, coaches and ambassadors will continue to deliver our Voice Against Violence message, supported by Our Watch, throughout communities and we are confident that together, we can make a positive change and end domestic violence.”    

From managers to coaches and players everyone can and should do their bit to prevent violence against women said ARU CEO Bill Pulver.

“Whether on the field, in the office or at the pub, simple things like telling your mates/colleagues that sexist jokes are not funny can make a difference to the culture that currently trivialises violence against women,” said Mr Pulver.

“The ARU stands beside the AFL, NRL and Netball Australia to call on the sporting community to take a stand against violence against women and gender inequality,” he said. 

The four sporting codes will work with Our Watch over the next two years to implement and evaluate effective interventions that sport can take to prevent violence against women now and into the future.

Media contact

For enquiries or further information: Hannah Grant, Our Watch, mobile 0448 844 930, email Hannah.Grant@ourwatch.org.au

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.”

Access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children.

About Our Watch 

Our Watch’s (previously the Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children) purpose is to raise awareness and engage the community in action to prevent violence against women and their children.
Our Watch was conceived of and brought into existence in 2013 by the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of Victoria. The Northern Territory, South Australian, Tasmanian and Queensland governments have also since become members of the organisation.
Our Watch’s work derives from the government’s commitment to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 and gives expression to many of the activities in the Second Action Plan 2013–2016 – Moving Ahead.