Port Macquarie's coastal walk against domestic violence to go ahead in 2019

Strong support: The annual Coastal Walk Against Domestic and Family Violence will go ahead this year despite the closure of White Ribbon Australia.
Strong support: The annual Coastal Walk Against Domestic and Family Violence will go ahead this year despite the closure of White Ribbon Australia.

The liquidation of White Ribbon Australia should not stop Port Macquarie-Hastings residents from continuing to make positive change on the domestic violence front.

The decision also left a cloud over the annual coastal walk, held in Port Macquarie each November.

In an online statement White Ribbon Australia said it was "with profound sadness" that the Australia-wide organisation had "taken the very difficult decision to close its doors".

This decision became necessary following an analysis of the organisation's future sustainability, the organisation said.

Liberty Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services CEO Kelly Lamb says the successful White Ribbon coastal walk will go ahead this year, despite the closure of the Australia-wide organisation.

She says there are organisations who can fill the void.

"Despite the loss of White Ribbon, there are other organisations working hard towards the goal of engaging men to make women's safety an issue for the whole community," she said.

"Locally, the Coastal Walk Against Domestic and Family Violence will go ahead as planned on Sunday December 1 this year.

"We renamed the event last year following White Ribbon's withdrawal of support for reproductive rights, and it proved to be yet another hugely successful event attended by more than 600 people keen to see an end to violence against women.

"This year we plan to make the event even bigger and better and are delighted to have received funding grants from Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and Charles Sturt University, which shows this community has made the event its own.

Hundreds of people have marched to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Hundreds of people have marched to raise awareness about domestic violence.

"Liberty also works to lead a whole of community and whole of family response to eliminate domestic and family violence and homelessness.

"We engage with men and the wider community through a range of education and awareness programs including Engage2Change, Fixed Address, Bystander workshops and tailored DV training.

"On a national scale, we are encouraged by the work of Our Watch and the Change the Story framework for the primary prevention of violence and were pleased when minister Mark Speakman announced the NSW government had joined Our Watch in May this year," Mrs Lamb said.

White Ribbon Australia had a strong presence in Port Macquarie with the annual White Ribbon Coastal Walk which was held each November.

Thousands of people threw their support behind raising awareness of domestic violence.

Part of the success of White Ribbon was the locally-based ambassadors.

Driving force behind the promotion of White Ribbon events in the area and ambassador, the former mayor Peter Besseling, urged the local community to remain supportive of the cause.

"It is a shame that the focus of the violence against women message has been distracted by the historic financial mismanagement and the strategic mis-steps by White Ribbon Australia," he said.

Our local networks still need support and hopefully the community will continue to get involved and support them in whatever way they can.

Peter Besseling

"The very strong brand recognition of the White Ribbon was very important in engaging people to support a strong anti-violence against women message but it really needed to better channel that goodwill through to local domestic and family violence support networks.

"Our local networks still need support and hopefully the community will continue to get involved and support them in whatever way they can," he said.

Respected Birpai elder and fellow ambassador Uncle Bill O'Brien OAM also described the closure of the organisation as "a shame".

"It is very important that we all look after our women who are in situations involving domestic violence," he said.

"We need to keep up the conversation.

"I think we can keep supporting women impacted by domestic violence, although it is a shame that it (White Ribbon Australia) has gone into liquidation.

"I don't know the reasons why but it is not good news," he said.

"But I definitely think the support is still there (in the community)."

We need to keep up the conversation.

Uncle Bill O'Brien

Mid North Coast Local Health District's chief executive and ambassador Stewart Dowrick says the organisation remains committed to promoting a safe workplace environment.

"As a local health district, and employer of more than 4000 people, we are as committed as ever to continuing our work to promote respectful, safe relationships in our workplace and our community," he said.

In its statement, White Ribbon Australia says it has been proud to serve alongside so many dedicated partner organisations, grassroots communities and government in the important work of ending men's violence against women.

"We want to acknowledge those communities around Australia who have been part of the White Ribbon movement - from the dedicated staff, ambassadors, advocates, and committees, to schools and teachers, sports clubs, workplaces and individual members of the community.

"For all those who are already planning for White Ribbon Day, we encourage you to continue with those plans alongside the international White Ribbon movement.

"Continue to raise your voice," the statement said.

"Even though White Ribbon Australia's journey ends here, we know that the work of our partners and communities will continue.

"Eliminating men's violence against women must remain a priority."

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