Navy sets sail in White Ribbon challenge

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence Media Release (author), LSIS Nina Fogliani (photographer)

Location(s): Garden Island, Sydney

White Ribbon Day guests and organisers  White Ribbon Ambassador Andrew O'Keefe, Commonwealth Games Athlete Michelle Jenneke and her parents, Chief Of Navy Representative Commodore Geoff Geraghty, RANR, Warrant Officer of the Navy representative Warrant Officer Robert Dew, Commanding Officer of HMAS Newcastle CMDR Dominic Macnamara, and White Paper Boat organiser Lieutenant Commander Damon Craig. (photo: LSIS Nina Fogliani)
White Ribbon Day guests and organisers White Ribbon Ambassador Andrew O'Keefe, Commonwealth Games Athlete Michelle Jenneke and her parents, Chief Of Navy Representative Commodore Geoff Geraghty, RANR, Warrant Officer of the Navy representative Warrant Officer Robert Dew, Commanding Officer of HMAS Newcastle CMDR Dominic Macnamara, and White Paper Boat organiser Lieutenant Commander Damon Craig.

Sailors from the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Newcastle attempted to set a world record on Sydney Harbour on 7 November, bringing attention to an important cause.

More than two hundred white paper boats were launched from Garden Island in a race to raise awareness of White Ribbon - Australia’s only national, male-led campaign to end violence against women.

Race organiser, Lieutenant Commander Damon Craig, is the Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer on board Newcastle. Lieutenant Commander Craig is also one of Navy’s 80 White Ribbon Ambassadors.

“The current record for a paper boat race is 250, and we think we can do better than that!” Lieutenant Commander Craig said.

White Ribbon Ambassador Andrew O'Keefe address the importance of White Ribbon Day to Navy personnel at Fleet Base East.

White Ribbon Ambassador Andrew O'Keefe address the importance of White Ribbon Day to Navy personnel at Fleet Base East.



Navy has been a long-time supporter of the White Ribbon initiative. In June this year, Navy became one of the first accredited White Ribbon Workplaces and maintains a constant commitment to the intent of the White Ribbon Organisation.

Commanding Officer of HMAS Newcastle, Commander Dominic MacNamara, said his crew was very keen to get behind the White Ribbon cause.

“Becoming accredited earlier this year took a great deal of effort by Navy in terms of training and cultural change,” Commander MacNamara said.

“Today’s activity is our way of spreading a very serious message. We do not tolerate violence against women within our workforce and in the broader community.”

Navy Personnel from HMAS Kuttabul and other fleet units from Fleet Base East, launching their paper boats into Sydney Harbour, for the White Paper Boat Race in support of White Ribbon.

Navy Personnel from HMAS Kuttabul and other fleet units from Fleet Base East, launching their paper boats into Sydney Harbour, for the White Paper Boat Race in support of White Ribbon.


The eco-friendly paper boats have been recovered from the harbour and the race outcome is now being scrutinised by officials from the Guinness Book of Records to confirm whether the record has been broken. Whatever the judges’ decision is, Lieutenant Commander Craig said the day had been a great success.

“We are all here for a cause we believe in,” Lieutenant Commander Craig said. “There is no room for violence against women in today’s Navy or in the Australian community in general.”

Further White Ribbon activities will be held across the Australian Defence Force to promote the campaign, culminating in White Ribbon Day on 25 November.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20143394.