Marika Koroibete with Shamima Ali, Fiji Women's Crisis Centre coordinator.

Koroibete leads male advocacy initiative

Melbourne Storm winger Marika Koroibete has completed a two-day trip as part of a joint male advocacy initiative with the Fiji National Rugby League, Australian National Rugby League, Australian Federal Government and Fiji Women's Crisis Centre.

Through the male advocacy initiative, NRL and FNRL staff will complete FWCC advocacy training, with the aim of training and engaging male advocates in 52 rugby league clubs across Fiji.

The program has a focus on gender-based violence, with the goal of building up male advocates across the clubs to provide safer environments for women and children in homes and communities.

Koroibete was proud to be involved with the initiative, and noted just how important the cause is.

"This trip was a great opportunity to give back to my country that has given me so much," Koroibete said. 

"To be involved in the partnership between the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre, Fiji NRL and NRL was a great honour and hopefully an important step towards eliminating violence against women."

The Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Hon Steven Ciobo pledged his support for the initiative.

"Men, even more than women, must become agents for positive change in addressing and preventing violence against women," Minister Ciobo said. 

"These male advocates are leaders amongst their peers and will help make a difference on this critical issue, reaching out through sporting skills and messages developed by the Australian National Rugby League and Fiji National Rugby League."

NRL Senior Manager Government Relations, Jaymes Boland Rudder, said the initiative was a continuation of the work the governing body has begun in Australia.

"NRL are committed to using the profile and popularity of rugby league to positively change communities, including helping to stop violence against women and children," said Mr Rudder. 

"We are pleased to partner with the FWCC and FNRL in this positive initiative and thank the Minister and the Australian Government for supporting our Pacific Outreach Program."

FNRL CEO Timoci Naleba echoed this commitment saying, "FNRL as an organisation will support any initiative to ensure the safety and right to live free of violence for everybody in Fiji. FNRL will want to see itself playing a critical role in promoting a violence-free world for women and children."

Together, the NRL and FNRL aim to engage members from rugby league clubs nationwide as well as those from FWCC programs and NRL secondary school outreach.

While in Fiji last month, Minister Ciobo met with male advocates trained through the FWCC's Male Advocacy on Women's Human Rights initiative, who shared their experiences on engaging men as responsible allies in ending gender-based violence. Minister Ciobo has since become an official White Ribbon Ambassador, committing to stand up, speak out and act to prevent violence against women.

The Australian Government's Sport Diplomacy Strategy, launched this year, prioritises the use of sport for development outcomes, such as improving social cohesion bringing people in communities together in a positive way.