The anti-domestic violence campaign took over the main street of Tenterfield on Friday in the third annual Walk Against Violence, each year attracting a larger crowd.
This year the emphasis was on men standing up to say that the culture of domestic violence is unacceptable.
“Most men are not violent,” David Townes said as MC at the culmination of the walk in Bruxner Park.
“But domestic violence is perpetrated predominantly by men against women and children, and making a change has rested on the shoulder of innocent women.
“We need good and decent men to take on that responsibility, and say we will no longer tolerate this.”
Standing up to represent those good and decent men was football coach Wayne Minns, a fitting ambassador for the event. He said in his research on what White Ribbon stood for, he came to realise that it wasn’t just about physical abuse but also involves emotional, verbal and sexual abuse, property damage, isolation and any actions or behaviours that try to control others.
“As a young man I made a conscious decision that in situations of arguing with my partner I had a choice: I could speak with my hands or fists, or I could walk away and come back when I had had time to cool off,” he told the crowd.
“I learnt that a genuine apology was more meaningful than a bunch of flowers, and a calm resolution was more productive than the alternative, This is a process that my wife Debbie and I began to practise early in our marriage, and 36 years later is testimony to its impact.”
He encouraged the men present to be an example to other men, treat women with respect and as equals, be mindful of how language as well as actions can be disrespectful and abusive.
“Let’s make this year’s focus be on reducing unwanted sexual comments and behaviour which reflect power inequalities between men and women.
“Le’ts eliminate sexist language and jokes which help create the impression that women are inferior to men, are ‘objects’, and that work to legitimise violence against women. Let’s point this out when you hear sexist language or sexist jokes, and encourage others to be respectful towards women.”