Rugby League’s ongoing commitment to helping the community eliminate violence against women was boosted today with the Federal Government funding a three-year game-wide initiative involving education and media campaigns expected to reach over a million Australians.

The Minister for Women, the Hon Kate Ellis MP, joined NRL Chief Executive Mr David Gallop, the Canberra Raiders’ Brett White and One Community Ambassador Mario Fenech at Canberra’s Parliament House to announce the $250,000 grant on the eve of White Ribbon Day (Nov 25) – a day that highlights the extent of violence against women in the community and which calls on all Australians to make a pledge to say no to any form of violence against women.

The Community Action Grant will use the profile and reach of Rugby League to help promote the Federal Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women with the message that: ‘The only line you should be crossing is the try line – say no to domestic violence’.

“We know that reducing violence is something that the Government cannot do alone, which is why it is so important that we work with community organisations on the ground to promote respectful relationships and ensure that women can live lives free of violence,” Ms Ellis said.

“All forms of violence against women are unacceptable - in any community and in any culture - and it is everyone’s responsibility to reject and prevent violence.

“I know that the Australian Rugby League is working hard to promote a local club culture that is respectful of women and this new funding will mean that Rugby League can lead and support social change at a community level.

“Changing community attitudes is a long-term challenge. By working together and challenging the attitudes and behaviours that allow violence to occur, all levels of government are saying a very loud “no’ to violence.”

ARL Chief Executive, Mr Geoff Carr, said Rugby League had a clear record of speaking out against violence against women and that clubs and representative teams including the Kangaroos and the Prime Minister’s XIII had helped target community attitudes:

“It’s something the players feel strongly about and the sight of Darren Lockyer and his team mates wearing white ribbons on their jerseys during the Four Nations final was an important symbol of the game’s commitment to the campaign.”

The three year plan funded via the Community Action Grant will include:

- The development of an educational resource for grass-roots Rugby League clubs in line with the game’s elite “Respectful Relationships” program currently being run for NRL and Toyota Cup players.
- A review and update of the Code of Conduct policy to be signed by all senior grass-roots players Australia-wide.
- Annual education and awareness workshops for Indigenous communities in NSW and Queensland over the next three years.
- Sponsorship of The Remote Area Indigenous competition in Queensland promoting messages against domestic violence.
- A television commercial to be played on stadium screens at games and to be delivered through targeted social media platforms.

“Rugby League is a leader in Australian professional sport in implementing policies and education programs to address social issues,”  NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said at today’s launch in Canberra.

“The Federal Government’s Community Action Grant will ensure we can continue to grow our programs and maintain our commitment to making a difference in the community.

“We all want to be part of a society where violence against women is universally unacceptable.

“It is fitting that this announcement comes on the eve of White Ribbon Day, which we have supported since its inception and we encourage all men to speak out about the issue by swearing an oath never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.”  (To take the oath, go to www.myoath.com.au

Tomorrow (Nov 25) Mr Gallop will be joined by Souths Rhys Wesser and Bulldogs players and staff in Sydney’s White Walk from Randwick to Coogee, which has been organised by Eastern Beaches Local Area Command NSW Police and Randwick City Council.
Other activities include:

- One Community Ambassadors will take part in White Ribbon’s “Boys Day Out” at Martin Place (Nov 25).
- The Raiders will work with the Australian Federal Police in a White Ribbon promotion at National Headquarters and take part in a charity cricket match at the AIS with the ACT Brumbies and ACT Meteors (Nov 25).
- The Penrith Panthers joined Penrith City Council to hold a White Ribbon Day Breakfast BBQ today (Nov 24) while General Manager Phil Gould will also be the guest speaker at the official White Ribbon Day launch at NSW Parliament House.
- The Kangaroos  have recorded messages and promoted the White Ribbon Day message on nrl.com.au
- The NRL’s first Toyota Cup rookie camps for the 2012 season will be held at the Gold Coast from tomorrow (Nov 25-27), with one of the key workshops (Sex and Ethics) being conducted by NSW Rape Crisis Centre Board member Nina Funnell and former players who have been a part of the Respectful Relationship Program – Matt Geyer, Darren Smith and Mark Tookey.

Rugby League’s commitment to promoting positive attitudes to women has included the following initiatives:

- 2004: The NRL developed its ground-breaking sexual ethics policy, commissioning independent researchers to work with players to understand the most effective ways to promote positive attitudes towards women. Conducted by industry experts including the Director of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre Karen Willis, Wendy McCarthy AO, Dr Kath Albury and Professor Catharine Lumby, the Playing By the Rules report led to the creation of a specific education program for players exploring the ethics of social and sexual encounters.
- 2004: The NRL signed on to support the first ever White Ribbon Day campaign launched by UNIFEM in Australia and remains an active participant.
-2005: The NRL’s Playing By the Rules program received a NSW Premier’s Violence Against Women Prevention award for its efforts in promoting positive attitudes to women.
- 2007: The Normanton Stingers in Queensland’s gulf country gain national recognition for the campaign “Domestic Violence - It's Not Our Game”.
- 2008: The White Ribbon first featured on the Kangaroos jersey.
- 2009: The NSW Government piloted community Domestic Violence Programs across six NSWRL and Country Rugby League teams in five communities.
- 2009: Rugby League is the only sport (and the only predominately male organisation) to be chosen to pilot the “Respectful Relationships Program” as part of a $41.5million national commitment from the Federal Government to reduce domestic violence against women and their children. Current and former players are trained to deliver the program and act as mentors.
- 2010: The success of the NSWRL and CRL partnership with the NSW Government extends to 14 teams in 11 communities.
- 2010: Rugby League’s One Community extended the game’s partnership with the White Ribbon Foundation producing a commercial to feature at Test matches and online.
- 2011: The NSWRL and CRL partnership with the NSW Government extends to 17 teams in 14 communities.
- 2011: The Prime Minister’s XIII promoted “say no to violence against women” and “strong men don’t hit women” messages in PNG.
- 2011: NRL CEO David Gallop, Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens, Kangaroos players, Rugby League’s One Community Ambassadors, and NRL club officials and players have taken the “I swear …” oath to equip men with the skills and information to take action against violence against women.

For more information on the White Ribbon Foundation, go to www.whiteribbon.org.au

To take the oath, go to www.myoath.com.au