White Ribbon’s new boss vows to end ‘tokenism’ in fight against domestic violence


White Ribbon Australia has emerged from financial collapse with a new funding source and a new boss, who is pledging to replace “tokenism” with action to end men’s violence against women.

The charity — which describes itself as working “to eliminate gendered violence” and creating an “Australia free from all forms of violence against women and children” — went into liquidation last year, after running at a substantial operational loss.

That followed other controversies including the departure of directors and the organisation’s public stance on abortion.

Its new executive director, Adelaide-based activist Brad Chilcott, today conceded that its efforts to raise awareness of domestic violence had strayed ahead of its financial collapse.

He said the charity had allowed some to believe that symbolic gestures about domestic violence were adequate to address the issue of domestic abuse.

“White Ribbon Australia did an excellent job of raising awareness and they did that for many years.

“Now the time for awareness has passed. People are aware … I think it’s time for White Ribbon to change.”

White Ribbon Day aims to raise awareness about domestic violence.(Flickr: Amy Dianna)

Social services provider Communicare has now revived White Ribbon out of administration, taking on its intellectual property and remaining assets.

Mr Chilcott — a progressive pastor at Activate Church in Adelaide, founder of refugee advocacy organisation Welcome to Australia and one-time adviser to former SA Labor premier Jay Weatherill — said the link with the frontline agency would help White Ribbon take stronger action.

He said it would be ending its male-only White Ribbon Ambassadors program and “moving from awareness to advocacy”.

“We’re trying to equip local communities and individuals to take meaningful action to end gendered violence,” Mr Chilcott said.

White Ribbon ‘must involve all Australians’

Mr Chilcott said the urgent need for advocacy had again been illustrated by recent events.

Last night, a central Queensland woman was stabbed to death in front of two of her children, in a killing that a senior detective described as one of the worst the city’s police had ever seen.

This morning, the New South Wales coroner found that Sydney dentist De Preethi Reddy died from blunt force head injuries and stab wounds by her ex-boyfriend Harsh Narde.

Australian police deal with domestic violence incidents hundreds of times each day — once every two minutes, on average.

Rachel and Brad Chilcott stand arm in arm in front outside
Brad Chilcott with wife Rachel.(Facebook: Rachel Chilcott)

Mr Chilcott said White Ribbon would be consulting with frontline services, victims and survivors on what worked to reduce domestic abuse, and on what policy the charity should advocate.

“We can use the voices of the tens of thousands of people who make up White Ribbon to back in those calls and see … structural changes, at the same time as we are working towards cultural change that will see gender inequality end,” he said.

“Hopefully [an end to] gendered violence [will] follow.”

Mr Chilcott added that the organisation, which has traditionally been focused on addressing men’s role in domestic violence, must change to “involve all Australians, not just men”.

“We also need a whole-of-community response.”



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