White Ribbon and Highlanders join forces to end family violence

Highlanders and White Ribbon visited Te Roopu Tautoki listening to Harvey Uiti, Dennis Mariu and Michael Laufiso talk about family violence issues, the effect they have on families and how men can take positive steps to stop family violence.

The Highlanders are joining forces with White Ribbon to help raise awareness of men’s violence against women.

White Ribbon is a symbol used by communities to show that they do not condone violence towards women. In New Zealand most violence by men against women takes place in the home – each year an average of 14 women are killed by their partners or ex-partners and more than 3500 convictions for assaults on women are recorded.

The Highlanders have added their voice to the growing movement, aimed at eliminating violence towards women, by inviting White Ribbon to Carisbrook as the match day charity and for White Ribbon to meet with players and management.

“Clearly we want our community to be safe for all women and children,” said Greg O’Brien, Highlanders Team Manager. “As a team we try to treat each other as family. There’s a high level of respect and we look out for one another. Families should be no different. No one should be made to suffer intimidation or violence. As a team we hope we can play a small part in ending family violence.”

Family violence-related offences in the Southern Police district rose 13% in the year to 30 June 2009, to just over 3000 offences, of which some 60% were categorised by police as actual violence such as child abuse and assault. But White Ribbon Coordinator Rob McCann says this is not necessarily bad news.

“In the past police have told us that family violence incidents have been seriously under-reported. Since the advent of the “It’s Not OK” and “White Ribbon” campaigns, reporting of family violence has gone up, which police nationally have credited to the success of these campaigns as they have encouraged more people to take action to report family violence or seek help both as victims and as perpetrators. Police have also improved their reporting procedures and have committed to a strong focus on dealing with family violence at all levels. The result of this in the southern police district is that 20% more family violence offences have been resolved.”

Rob McCann says these figures show that the real levels of family violence are now being brought out into the open and there is a greater intolerance by society toward violence and an increased willingness to take action.

Rob McCann was very pleased when the Highlanders asked whether they could assist in raising awareness. “White Ribbon offers men a chance to be part of the solution to end violence. We want men to be leaders and to take positive steps and be at the forefront of change.

“The Highlanders are providing an excellent example of how men can take part in the movement to end violence towards women. You can either ignore the problem, or you can acknowledge that you can have a positive role in reducing the incidents of violence. The Highlanders have chosen to become part of the solution,” said Rob McCann.

To learn more about some of the issues facing women, The Highlanders have invited White Ribbon and Lesley Elliott (mother of Sophie Elliot) to speak to the team after training.

Lesley Elliot explains, “The ultimate result of family violence towards Sophie was her death. However there were many incidents of intimate partner violence that led to her death. I hope that by sharing Sophie’s story with the team, these young men can look at their own behavior and say with honesty, that they want to be part of the solution.”

“We’re not saying we’re perfect but we want to learn more about the issue and add our support to White Ribbon and help end family violence in New Zealand. As potential role models we want our young men to be able to say it’s not OK if they come across violence in our families or our friends’ families. I hope by joining forces with White Ribbon we are bringing some awareness to the issue, and hopefully turning that awareness into action,” says Greg O’Brien.

Key Messages:

  • No violence within families is tolerable. If someone within the family is being frightened or intimidated by the behaviour of someone else, it is not OK. But it is OK to ask for help
  • Violence isn’t just the physical, emotional or verbal behaviour used to control someone through fear. Things we say, or don’t say, contribute to the abuse
  • White Ribbon as a campaign will focus on what good men can do to change attitudes towards violence, developing a practical guide for affirmative action by men
  • White Ribbon Day is the international day when people wear a white ribbon to show they won’t tolerate, condone or remain silent about violence against women
  • It originated as a men’s movement in Canada and is now part of the United Nations annual calendar (International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women). The Families Commission took a leadership role in New Zealand in 2006
  • White Ribbon is now used as a symbol to show you do not condone violence against women or children
  • Whether you are a father, brother, uncle, granddad or cousin – we all want to keep our families safe. We all want our children to grow up and have happy healthy relationships
  • By wearing a white ribbon you can make it clear that you do not tolerate violence against women and children
  • You can also take positive actions and make sure your home, your business or your sports club is a safe environment where abusive behaviour is not tolerated
  • The White Ribbon Day campaign encourages men to talk openly about violence towards women, to support men who want to change their abusive behaviour and to challenge comments, statements and actions by men that are abusive


  • In New Zealand most violence against women takes place in the home
  • In violence between couples, it is men’s violence that is most likely to cause serious physical or psychological harm
  • An average of 14 women a year are killed by their partners or ex partners
  • There are over 3500 convictions recorded against men each year for assaults on women
  • One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives

The Families Commission works with multiple agencies and NGOs to coordinate the national campaign including: UNIFEM, National Network of Stopping Violence Services, NZ Police, UNICEF, YWCA, Women’s Refuge, Jigsaw, Barnardos, Amnesty International, Relationship Services, YMCA, ACC, Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Social Development, Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Department of Corrections, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice

  • The Highlanders play The Lions on Friday 26 March at 7:35pm at Carisbrook
  • If you or someone needs help call 0800 456 450 or go to www.areyouok.org.nz

About whiteribbonnz
White Ribbon is a community led campaign to end men's violence towards women

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