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.
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’ - Family domestic violence services and supporters to encourage Australians to play their part against violence during Grand Final Weekend.
L-R: Rita Butera, Chief Executive Officer, safe steps, Jacqui Watt, Chief Executive Officer, No to Violence, Russell Hooper, Head of Advocacy, Men's Referral Service, Tiffany Cherry, first female AFL boundary umpire, Our Watch ambassador, broadcaster. PHOTO: Amelia J Dowd.
According to Police and Australian Crime Statistics (2019) there is an increase in family violence incidents attended by Police on AFL and NRL Grand Final weekends.
- New South Wales experienced a 27.91% increase in family violence police incidents on NRL Grand Final Day, and a 16.28% increase on AFL Grand Final day.
- Victoria experienced a 15.11% increase in family incidents Victoria on AFL Grand Final day, and an 11.56% increase on NRL Grand Final Day.
- Family arguments/family Violence incidents in Tasmania on AFL Grand Final Day are 35% higher than on other days, according to a decade of Tasmanian Police.
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.
“We are all in this together.
"We may have competitive rivalries between our teams but all of us need to be on the same side against family and domestic violence and play our part in creating a safe future for all," Ms Watt said.
Play our Part highlights that the number of people who experience family violence every year could fill the stands of the Sydney Cricket Ground, Marvel Stadium (Melbourne), the GABBA (Brisbane), Adelaide Oval, Optus Stadium (Perth), Tio Stadium (Darwin), Manuka Stadium (Canberra) and Bellerive Stadium (Hobart) combined.
“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,” Ms Watt said.
“This is why it’s important to raise awareness of supports available for people 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 at risk of using family violence, call the Men’s Referral Service.”
Executive Director of White Ribbon Australia, Brad Chilcott, said that sport is such an integral part of Australian culture.
"People learn and replicate certain attitudes, behaviours and social norms either as spectators, supporters, players or employees,” he said.
“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 ingrained 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.
“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," Mr Moger said.
Chief Executive of Our Watch, Patty Kinnersly, said that research indicates that family and domestic violence is not caused by the disappointment of a favourite team losing, excessive alcohol consumption or the stress of a tense match.
"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," she said.
“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.”
The ‘Play our Part’ campaign also 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.
Respect Victoria CEO Tracey Gaudry said the more people who choose to 'call it out' when a friend, colleague or family member acts or speaks disrespectfully about a woman, the better.
"The less that behaviour will be seen as ‘normal’ and will eventually stop altogether,” Ms Gaudry said.