Coming together for worthy cause

Community: The Traralgon Harriers teamed up with local organisations to hold an Orange Round recently. Pictured is Andrew Legge (Harriers vice president), Phill Mayer (Harriers president), Bianca Pezzutto (Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault) and Amelia Evison (Gippsport). photographs supplied




TRARALGON Harriers recently held an ‘Orange Round’ in conjunction with Gippsport, the Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault (GCASA) and Gippsland Women’s Health, to help promote gender equality, the prevention of violence against women, and raising awareness of this important topic within sporting clubs.

Harriers president, Phill Mayer, said the idea for this project grew from the United Nations International Orange Day, which is an initiative to quell the violence epidemic.

“This is an important project, especially in Gippsland and Latrobe in particular having such dismal and negatively dramatic statistics when it comes to family violence, sexual assault, and a culture that does not always promote equality and respect, so as a leader in our community, the Harriers absolutely got behind the initiative,” he said.

After the club’s weekly run, they ran an Orange Dinner event and had Bianca Pezzutto from GCASA speak to members about the importance of raising awareness and actually changing behaviours in the community. She was joined by Amelia Evison from Gippsport, who thanked members for “a very successful night”.

“We appreciate the effort club members put in to create a space for us to discuss and raise awareness about gender equity and the prevention of violence again women. The Harriers is a unique organisation and an example of what strong leadership and enthusiastic membership can produce,” she said.

Most members wore orange in a symbolic gesture to support the principles and ideals of the project.

Phill said it was important to make sure that education and support were clearly demonstrated by the club, and that the culture of acceptance of violence in the community was quashed and relegated to history.

“Normalising talking about difficult subjects is an essential step in making our community a better place, and I was very proud to see the club buy-in and support this event,” he said.

“It was a great event with a really positive atmosphere in the rooms, members interacting, and again showed our club to be progressive, thoughtful and inclusive. For the first time in the club’s history, we have more female members than males, demonstrating we are clearly a welcoming club.

“Some people may think it’s unnecessary for a sports club to be hosting such an event, that it’s not what a sports club is about, but these sorts of events support inclusion, and make for a better community. It’s what all organisations should strive to be, fostering an environment of equality, inclusivity and integrity, where support is genuine and makes sure that all member demographics are welcomed.

“Whether its championing gender equality, the prevention of violence against women, awareness about important community issues or inclusivity, a strong and progressive sports club should stand for these issues. We’re not going to change the world overnight, but starting the dialogue is essential if we want anything to change, and drawing attention to the violence epidemic, having conversations about difficult topics like suicide or cancer or anything else deemed difficult or controversial, is actually essential and makes the club stronger.

“Normalising talking about taboo subjects is a step in making our community a better place, and all members who attended, wore orange, had conversations, supported the event and contributed to its success should be congratulated’.”

The Traralgon Harriers runs every Thursday night and welcomes runners of all levels, gender and age to join. For more information see the club’s Facebook page or call club treasurer Ann Bomers on 0410 330 237.

Education: Club members enjoyed an orange dinner, an orange run and presentations about the topic of violence against women.