Wimmera sporting clubs a focus for tackling family violence

Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins speaks in Horsham on Tuesday. Picture: CARLY WERNER
Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins speaks in Horsham on Tuesday. Picture: CARLY WERNER

WIMMERA sporting clubs will become key battle grounds for tackling family violence.

Women’s Health Grampians hopes to work with clubs as part of its Communities of Respect and Equality – CORE – plan to prevent violence against women and children.

The plan was in response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence findings released last year.

The plan provides a framework for action to address cultures and attitudes that support violence against women and children.

Women’s Health Grampians chief executive Marianne Hendron said 62 organisations had signed up as CORE members since the plan launched in mid-2016.

She said the organisation had two key focus areas for the plan’s second year: broadening CORE membership, and working with clubs to achieve equality and inclusiveness through sport.

“We were able to get some state government funding – $140,000 for our diversity and inclusion program – which is enabling us to dedicate a particular focus to working with sporting clubs,” she said.

“We are certainly impressed by the response to the plan. There are a number of Wimmera groups – including the wide-reaching, big employers – who have signed up, and others that have approached us for information.

“In the Wimmera we have four councils as members, then organisations with a lot of reach such as Uniting Wimmera, Wimmera Primary Care Partnership, and Grampians Community Health. 

“It’s not just a matter of sending them out a form. There’s no point in it being a tokenistic thing.

“We commit to providing a briefing to organisations, and giving people a sense of what it means to be part of this work and a community collective.” The organisation is finalising what its work with clubs will involve.

The role of sporting clubs in addressing violence against women was also highlighted at the Wimmera Leading Change Breakfast on Tuesday.

Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins spoke about gender equality and economic security, and how they related to family violence. 

She said ensuring gender equality in sport through inclusiveness and safety was essential.

Ms Jenkins – who is also a Carlton Football Club director – said women retired with half as much in their savings as men.

She said homelessness was a major problem among older women.

“When you raise that people say, 'How can that be – we've had laws and as a boss I don't pay women any less',” she said. 

“But it accumulates over a lifetime, from a young age when girls are encouraged into caring professions that pay less, through to when they take leave for having children.”

Ms Jenkins said preventing violence was not simply about a better legal system, but creating more gender-balanced communities.

She said Australian ranked 46th in the world for gender equality, and this needed to change.

Commentator and family violence campaigner Phil Cleary speaks at the Wimmera Leading Change Breakfast. Picture: CARLY WERNER

Commentator and family violence campaigner Phil Cleary speaks at the Wimmera Leading Change Breakfast. Picture: CARLY WERNER

Commentator and family violence campaigner Phil Cleary also spoke at the event. Saturday marks 30 years since Mr Cleary’s sister was killed by her partner.

Mr Cleary said spending years playing football and as a football coach taught him a lot.

He said he wanted to see more women involved in sport at all levels.

“Bring me back in five years and I’d like to go down to your local football and netball clubs and you can show me the position of women,” he said.

“I’d like to be there on a match day, and see female coaches or women standing alongside the coach doing the data and the science.

“And at quarter-time when the coach looked to his people for the data, Kate would be there holding up the science that matters to young men.

“And the boys would be thinking, ‘She’s on top of this stuff – she knows it like us’.

“There’s equality emerging in your community.”