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Seeing men turn their lives around inspires CEO

Media Release
26 October 2011

Seeing men turn their lives around inspires CEO

“The White Ribbon Campaign welcomes Bruce Pilbrow, CEO of Parents Inc and former Deputy Chief Families Commissioner, as a new White Ribbon Ambassador in the fight to end violence against women”, says Families Commission Campaign Manager Rob McCann.

The White Ribbon Day campaign raises awareness of men’s violence against women - which in New Zealand is generally directed at wives, girlfriends and other intimate partners. White Ribbon Ambassadors encourage men to get involved by helping to challenge and change men’s abusive behaviour and attitudes towards women.

Seeing too many families affected by violence has inspired Bruce’s desire to become a White Ribbon Ambassador. ‘My work has shown me that too often violence pushes families over the edge. Anything that can be done to stop this from occurring I’m going to support wholeheartedly’, says Bruce.

‘I met a father a number of years ago who described himself as an ‘animal’. He abused alcohol and regularly abused his wife and children. After attending a parenting seminar at Parents Inc he learnt the value of being a great dad and how he had to protect his family He realised that love had to be at the centre of his family and that his violent behaviour could not continue. He was able to turn his life around and with ongoing help became a sober, gentle, loving man for his family. If this man can make these life changes, other men can too.’

Motivated by stories like this, Bruce feels honoured to become a White Ribbon Ambassador and assist other men to seek help and change their violent behaviour.

The campaign is led by the Families Commission which actively supports a suite of family violence initiatives including the It’s Not OK campaign, the Family Violence Clearinghouse, Family Violence Statistics report and the White Ribbon Campaign.

‘I have always felt passionate about this campaign. I thought it was something fresh and exciting and wanted to be a part of this life-changing work. Violence has no place in our society and I hope the campaign will help bring about a violence-free future for all of our families’.

Bruce believes that getting communities to talk amongst themselves about stopping violence is the first step in creating a violence-free society. ‘Male ambassadors who can speak to other men and communities are really powerful. The campaign communicates to the public in a positive, proactive way and I am really proud of it.’ He stresses the importance of people at a community level standing up and being leaders. ‘We need men to stand up within their own communities to say that violence is not okay. Let us draw a line in the sand and demand that violence towards women and families is not acceptable.’

Being an avid biker with his wife, Amanda, Bruce feels a strong connection to the White Ribbon Ride, a key component of this year’s campaign. He jokes that he loves all bikes, just as long as they are Triumphs. He believes that bikes can be a great starter of communications between people. ‘Motor bikers tend to be seen as tough and rough, but I have seen real genuineness and support for this campaign from biking communities. Using bikes as the common ground is a great way to start a conversation with someone. Communities that are visited by the White Ribbon Ride find the imagery of these men and the messages they are spreading really powerful.’

In 2010 the ride visited over 40 communities throughout the North Island, generating significant support for local anti-violence initiatives. Three rides will happen in 2011, one on the east and west coasts of the North Island and one down the South Island. Riders can participate in the whole ride over all eight days or ride for sections of the route. The ride is led by the Patriots Defence Force Motorcycle Club.

Bruce is committed to making sure the White Ribbon messages get to all corners of New Zealand. ‘I will use my connections through Parents Inc to share these messages and stories. We work with families all across the country and if I can use some of these networks to encourage more people to support the campaign, I know I’m doing something truly worthwhile.’

Key Messages of the White Ribbon Campaign

Violence towards women is unacceptable
It is ok to ask for or offer help
No violence is tolerable. If you know someone who is being frightened or intimidated by the behaviour of someone else, it is not OK.
Violence isn’t just the physical, it’s also emotional or verbal behaviour used to control someone through fear. Things we say, or don’t say, contribute to the abuse.

Men must stand up and provide leadership
White Ribbon Day is the international day when people, particularly men, wear a White Ribbon to show they won’t tolerate, condone or remain silent about violence towards women.
It originated as a men’s movement in Canada and is now part of the United Nations annual calendar (International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women). The Families Commission took a leadership role in New Zealand in 2006.

Men are part of the solution
Whether you are a husband, father, brother, uncle or granddad – we all have women in our lives that we love, and wouldn’t want to see subjected to violence. We all want our children to grow up in a happy, healthy environment and to go on to have happy, healthy relationships.
The campaign aims to change men’s attitudes and behaviours predominately through men talking to men, in ways that men understand. Men are role models for our children. We need to nurture a culture that encourages respect and rejects violence.
Like our White Ribbon Ambassador Ruben Wiki, we can play sports with controlled aggression, ride bikes and engage in physical activities, but we must not bring violence into our homes.
By simply wearing a White Ribbon, you can make it clear to other men that you do not tolerate violence against women.
You can also make sure your home, your business or your sports club is a safe environment where abusive behaviour is not tolerated.
The White Ribbon Campaign encourages men to talk openly about domestic violence, to break the silence around the subject. We encourage men to challenge comments, statements and actions that are abusive, and support those who wish to change their abusive behaviour.

Ambassadors
Ruben Wiki was the first White Ribbon Ambassador.
There are now some 20 Ambassadors including the Prime Minister.
White Ribbon Ambassadors are chosen for:
their support for the principles of the campaign.
their willingness to challenge the behaviour of abusive men.
their willingness to encourage others to do the same.
their commitment to conveying the messages of the White Ribbon Campaign to other men within their community

Statistics in New Zealand:
In New Zealand most violence towards women takes place in the home.
In violence between couples, it is men’s violence that is most likely to cause serious physical or psychological harm.
An average of 14 women a year are killed by their partners or ex-partners.
There are over 3500 convictions recorded against men each year for assaults on women.
One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives

The Families Commission and White Ribbon Committee works with multiple agencies and NGOs to coordinate the national campaign. The White Ribbon campaign complements but is separate to the family violence It’s not OK campaign.


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