‘Play our part’ – WA family domestic violence services and supporters encourage West Australians to play their part against violence during Grand Final weekend
An expected spike in family violence over the Australian Football League and National Rugby League Grand Finals weekend (24 and 25 October) has led to Australia’s leading domestic violence services joining forces to raise awareness that support is available.
WA services Angelhands, Ruah Community Services and Wungening Aboriginal Corporation along with No to Violence, White Ribbon Australia, 1800RESPECT, Our Watch and Respect Victoria have come together with a range of high-profile advocates to encourage all Australians to ‘Play our Part’ in reducing and ultimately preventing family and domestic violence across our communities.
Play our Part highlights that the number of people who experience family violence every year could fill the stands of Optus Stadium, the Sydney Cricket Ground, Marvel Stadium, the GABBA, Adelaide Oval, Tio Stadium, Manuka Oval and Blundstone Arena combined.
Jacqui Watt, Chief Executive of No to Violence said whilst Grand Final events are a day of excitement and celebration for many; it is a dangerous time for others with increased rates of domestic and family violence incidents across Australia.
“Each year, over 300,000 people experience family violence, and the devastating reality is that this number of people would struggle to fit in the empty seats of these stadiums,” says Ms Watt.
Angelhands Founder and Patron Dr Ann O’Neill said as Aussies, we always play our part and protest in the 1000’s to protect our code, our home ground, our players or our teams, we ALL need to be as passionate about this when protecting our families or standing up against disrespect!
“In sport people, especially men, don’t hesitate to get coaches to help us get our best ‘winning’ game on the ground, angelhands always reminds people there is great strength and pride in seeking guidance on how to achieve the same in our own lives and our families.”
“Many people are not aware of the free, friendly, confidential supports available for them to reach out to if they are experiencing or using violence, wherever they are in Australia. If you are experiencing violence you can call 1800RESPECT. Or if you think you are risk of using family violence, call the No to Violence Men’s Referral Service.”
“Watching ‘The Finals’ should be something everyone in the family looks forward to with the same excitement and feelings of anticipation the players have, not the dread and apprehension many family’s feel. The Game should unify family members, not terrify them, like it did me for many years.”
The ‘Play our Part’ campaign aims to raise awareness of family and domestic violence prevention and early intervention support services in Australia, as they work to change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to men’s violence against women.
Ruah Community Services has been supporting women experiencing family and domestic violence in Western Australia for close to 60 years, since opening the State’s first women’s refuge in 1961.
Ruah CEO Debra Zanella says the experience of frontline support workers tells us that big occasions and special events, like Grand Final weekend and Christmas, are times when we see an increase in family and domestic violence incidence.
“This year we add to that the ongoing economic and social impacts of COVID-19 that are continuing to create high levels stress in the community – and we know the result is that more families, particularly women and children, are at even greater risk,” says Ms Zanella.
Wungening Aboriginal Corporation CEO Daniel Morrison adds “It’s a timely reminder for people that violence, abuse, or controlling, coercive and intimidating behaviour is never ok, and that there is support available – for those who experience family violence, and also for those at risk of being violent or abusive.”
“Sport is such an integral part of Australian culture because people learn and replicate certain attitudes, behaviours and social norms either as spectators, supporters, players or employees,” says Brad Chilcott, Executive Director of White Ribbon Australia.
“That is why it is so important that on and off the field sport continues to take a zero tolerance to domestic and family violence and sets positive community standards about respect and equality.”
Organisations and advocates involved want to remind all Australians that everyone has a part to play in ending family violence.
1800RESPECT General Manager Paul Moger said it doesn’t matter if your team loses, you’re frustrated or you find yourself drinking more, it is inexcusable to use violence.
“Sport is engrained in the Australian way of life, it should bring communities together and not create an environment where people are at greater risk of being physically, emotionally or financially harmed”, says Mr Moger.
“We can all get a bit excited watching the most anticipated footy match of the year, but there is never an excuse for violence or abuse. We know from the research that family and domestic violence is not caused by the disappointment of your team losing, a few too many beers or the stress of a tense match,” says Patty Kinnersly, Chief Executive of Our Watch.
“Although these factors may exacerbate the violence, it is driven by gender inequality and the perpetrator’s need for power and control over their victim.”
“There are things we can all do to play our part to reduce family violence. It is up to all of us individuals, workplaces, all levels of government and organisations – to do something in the face of disrespect towards women and create a future where we are all equal, respected and safe.”
Present in image (left to right):
Dr Ann O’Neill, Angelhands Founder and Patron, Our Watch ambassador
Debra Zanella, Chief Executive Officer, Ruah Community Services
Daniel Morrison, Chief Executive Officer, Wungening Aboriginal Corporation