Navy’s ongoing campaign against family and domestic violence received a major boost recently with ships’ companies and teams across the nation doing their bit to raise money for White Ribbon.
Gatherings across the country in support of White Ribbon Night In raised both awareness and funding for the campaign to end men's violence against women.
The support for White Ribbon is part of Navy’s wider efforts to challenge acceptance of family and domestic violence.
Navy will soon release a Family and Domestic Violence Strategy as family and domestic violence destroys lives and relationships, erodes unit cohesion and undermines Navy Values.
In Sydney, Australian Clearance Dive Team One joined the crew of minehunter, HMAS Gascoyne, for a White Ribbon 'bake-off' at base, HMAS Waterhen.
Commanding Officer Gascoyne, Lieutenant Commander Alan Parton, said it was the idea of one of his sailors.
“Leading Seaman Combat Information Systems Carissa Andrews approached us in April this year and asked if she could become involved in White Ribbon,” Lieutenant Commander Parton said.
“We decided to hold the 'bake-off', to help raise money for White Ribbon, with the entire crew backing the event.”
The event saw a huge array of choices ranging from cookies and cakes to chocolate fudge and savouries. Ships' companies from Waterhen, other minehunters HMA Ships Huon, Yarra and Diamantina attended the bake-off sale.
Leading Seaman Clearance Diver Gareth Foye’s legendary ‘Fat Foysies’ rated a special mention with the burgers alone raising an impressive $400 out of the total $1,349 for the White Ribbon cause.
At least one woman is killed as a result of domestic violence each week in Australia. That’s a statistic that Executive Officer Australian Clearance Diver Team One, Lieutenant Jason Dawson, said could not be ignored.
“Navy has such an impact on the general perception of the wider communities across Australia,” Lieutenant Dawson said.
“By being such strong advocates for White Ribbon, all service personnel in Navy are standing up, speaking out and physically acting to prevent violence against women.”
In Canberra, local White Ribbon ambassador Leading Seaman Combat Systems Operator Nicholas Juner’s first major White Ribbon activity was held at Russell Offices.
With sweet goods supplied by Navy people across Navy Strategic Command, in particular Chief of Navy’s chef Leading Seaman Matthew Witney, the bake sale raised $1,139 for White Ribbon – higher than expected. However, Leading Seaman Juner admitted to feeling more than a little apprehensive ahead of the big day.
“I was pretty stressed and nervous about it not being a success,” Leading Seaman Juner said.
“But in the end I was extremely pleased with the outcome.”
For Leading Seaman Juner, the cause personal. Like many Australians, he is from a family where domestic violence has been a huge issue.
“I hope that being an ambassador will help prevent this from happening to anyone else.”
Throughout the event, Leading Seaman Juner kept the White Ribbon Ambassador’s oath firmly in mind. He says more people should take a personal stand against domestic violence.
“I want people to take the oath to increase their understanding of domestic violence,” he said.
“Each of us needs to ensure we never excuse that kind of behaviour.”
In HMAS Cairns Navy members joined forces with local businesses to raise $1,205 for the cause. It was an especially proud moment for Cairns which already has two White Ribbon Ambassadors and two advocates on staff. HMA Ships Newcastle, Perth, Moreton and Penguin also held events.
Not all White Ribbon events were on such a large scale. A more modest but no less important gathering took place in Sydney.
The small team from the Maritime Cross Platform Systems Office used the opportunity to sit down in a relaxed atmosphere, away from the office, and talk about a very important and topical issue that has a real impact on Navy people.
Director Captain John Metzl said many people who are directly or indirectly impacted by domestic violence.
"Our workforce, within Maritime Cross Platform Systems Project Office, is a reflection of society and our gathering was a great way to talk in a safe and nurturing environment about a topic that some people find very personal and difficult to talk about,” he said.
Navy is a White Ribbon accredited organisation and supports White Ribbon Day is held nationally each year on 25 November.