‘Respect, dignity and equality’ in Gippsland League


Footballers and netballers will sport orange armbands when Gippsland League stands up to violence against women and children on Saturday, 25 July.

A joint-initiative between Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault, Gippsland Women’s Health, GippSport, AFL Gippsland and Gippsland League, ‘Orange Round’ aims to raise awareness of the issue and drive meaningful change in societal attitudes and behaviours.

The concept is an adaptation of global initiative Orange Day, which was instigated by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and occurs on the 25th day of every month.

While black armbands traditionally acknowledge loss, GCASA project worker Donat Santowiak hopes orange armbands will come to symbolise respect, dignity and equality.

“Sexual and any violence toward women and children has its foundation in the way we think, feel and behave in our everyday lives,” Santowiak said.

“This includes the language we use, what we may find offensive or amusing and what we have adopted as ‘normal’ and continue to practise without reflection or deeper scrutiny.

“This gesture is about making an open statement that such behaviour in our community must stop and the wearing of orange armbands represents a commitment to this cause.”

Violence against women and children occurs in Australia at an alarming rate and Gippsland is no exception.

In the 2012-13 financial year, Gippsland police attended 7987 incidents per 100,000 citizens – an average increase of 60 per cent from the two years prior.

These figures only represent actual police interventions.

As well as senior football and A-grade netball teams wearing orange armbands, each Gippsland League club is participating in an information session for its players and support staff run by GCASA, GWH and GippSport.

Gippsland League chair Greg Maidment said the league was proud to take part in the initiative.

“We owe it to our community to help out where we can and raising awareness is one way we can contribute to combating this issue,” Maidment said.

“It’s great to see all our clubs support this worthy cause.”

GWH Regional Prevention Violence Against Women Coordinator Sarah Corbell praised the support for the initiative.

“It is really inspiring to see grass roots football clubs stepping up and speaking openly about the issue of men’s violence against women,” Corbell said.

“Leaders within local sporting clubs, both male and female, are well placed to do this and in order to prevent violence from ever occurring we need strong leaders that will openly discuss sexism and violence against women and girls and challenge behaviours that create inequality between men and women.”

Orange wrist bands promoting the Orange Round message of ‘respect, dignity and equality’ will also be available at the venue of each participating club on the day.