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Willie Mason, Nathan Hindmarsh, David Peachey and Mark O’Neill are among NRL stars who today added their voices to Rugby League’s ongoing commitment to tackling violence against women.

On the eve of White Ribbon Night (July 26), the NRL today launched ‘Voice Against Violence’, a Federally-funded community program encouraging men from more than 1300 grassroots Rugby League Clubs across Australia to help break the silence around violence against women.

At the same time, the NRL is also continuing to support the NSW Government’s ‘Tackling Violence’ program which launched a series of television advertisements today in Newcastle featuring Knights players Mason and Roberts and local Newcastle club players taking a public stand against violence towards women and children.

Interim NRL Community, Culture and Diversity General Manager, Mr Mark deWeerd, said Rugby League is committed to helping change attitudes and behaviours on domestic violence with damning statistics revealing that “one in three Australian women over the age of 15 have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives”.

“Both ‘Voice Against Violence’ and ‘Tackling Violence’ draw on the power and popularity of Rugby League as a positive vehicle to talk to the community and help change attitudes about the serious issue of domestic violence,” Mr deWeerd said.

“Research shows that in order to reduce violence against women, men need to be involved in the solutions. Both programs allow men to do this.

“The NRL is proud to continue its association with the ‘Tackling Violence’ program which has shown what a positive impact Rugby League can have on helping to reduce domestic violence in the community.

“Following the success of ‘Tackling Violence’ in NSW, the national ‘Voice Against Violence’ program was developed to give the Rugby League family Australia-wide an opportunity to use their voice against violence.”

As part of the ‘Voice Against Violence’ program, the NRL, in partnership with Mudgin-Gal Aboriginal Corporation, has produced an anti-violence education kit which will be made available to more than 1300 grassroots Rugby League clubs across Australia from next week.

Rugby League Development staff and Ambassadors including Hindmarsh, Peachey and O’Neill, have also been trained to deliver information and facts on domestic violence and its impact on the community.

Hindmarsh said: “If it’s your mate, if it’s a friend or neighbour, if you do know something, we are just asking you to speak up and put a stop to it.

“Report it or confront your mate or the person in a safe way, ask him what the situation is and if he needs help and also show support to the woman who is, or who you believe, may be suffering from domestic violence.

“In Australia at the moment there is an alarming statistic that one woman every week is killed by a current or former partner. It’s time for men to speak out against violence and campaigns like ‘Voice Against Violence’ empower men to do that.”

Already, thousands of men have been reached through Rugby League’s anti-domestic violence messages which are being delivered at all levels of the game from the Kangaroos and NRL Clubs through their support of the White Ribbon Foundation since 2008; education of NRL, Holden Cup and NRL club staff and players through the ‘Respectful Relationships’ program, since 2004; to the grassroots ‘Tackling Violence’ program, which started in 2009.

The new ‘Tackling Violence’ advertisements featuring Mason, will be broadcast in the Newcastle region from today.

The ‘Tackling Violence’ program is a community education, early intervention and prevention program, using local Rugby League clubs to promote changed attitudes and behaviours to domestic violence in regional NSW communities.

Since the project began in 2009, 1500 men from 28 Rugby League clubs have completed the workshop and 1800 have signed the code of conduct to refrain from domestic violence.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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