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White Ribbon Australia

Their Vision

White Ribbon Australia envision a nation that respects women, in which every woman lives in safety, free from all forms of men’s abuse.

Their Purpose

Engaging men to make women’s safety a man’s issue too.

Their Values

They are committed to the following values and bring these to bear in all facets of what they do:

  • Courage: in facing challenges and finding creative and innovative solutions.
  • Integrity: ethical, honest and accountable to all.
  • Respect: compassionate, honouring and acknowledging difference and upholding dignity.
  • Collaboration: working collaboratively to drive positive social change.
  • Leadership: leaders in driving lasting, positive, normative change.

White Ribbon Australia operates in collaboration with, and alongside, many other organisations working to end men’s violence against women. Their focus and strength is in mobilising men and communities to end men’s violence against women.

Their History

1981: 25 November declared “International Day Against Violence Against Women”

The date is chosen by the first Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean to commemorate the lives of Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal. The three sisters were violently assassinated on 25 November 1960 following years of resistance against the Trujillo dictatorship.

6 December 1989: Montreal Massacre

On the afternoon of December 6 1989, Marc Lépine separates students in a class at École Polytechnique de l’Université de Montréal, shouts anti-feminist sentiments and murders 14 of his female classmates.

His actions traumatised a nation and brought the issue of violence against women to the forefront of our collective consciousness.

June 1991: 16 Days of Activism established

The Centre for Women’s Global Leadership and participants of the first Women’s Global Institute on Women, Violence and Human Rights call for a global campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence from 25 November to 10 December.

November 1991: White Ribbon Campaign starts in Canada

Olivia Chow and Jan Peltier question Jack Layton, Ron Slusser and Michael Kaufman about what men are doing to end men’s violence against women. In response, Layton, Slusser and Kaufman start the White Ribbon Campaign. The first White Ribbon Day is held in Canada.

Coming to Australia

1992: MASA brings White Ribbon to Australia

Bob Pease, a member of the Australian group Men Against Sexual Assault (MASA), attends a National Organisation of Men Against Sexism conference in Chicago where Michael Kaufman gave a talk about the White Ribbon Campaign. Inspired by this talk, Pease helps to launch the campaign in each state where MASA is active.

1992-1997: MASA run White Ribbon Campaign in Australia

MASA run the White Ribbon Campaign in various Australian states. MASA members hand cut ribbons in their houses for distribution at community stalls, bookshops, rallies and public spaces during White Ribbon week. The week long campaign initially starts on 30 November and finishes on 6 December, the anniversary of the École Polytechnique de l’Université de Montréal polytechnique massacre.

1999: 25 November declared by UN as ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women’

United Nations General Assembly formally declares 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and invites governments, NGOs and international organisations to organise awareness raising activities on this day.

A New Millenium


Rosemary Calder, head of the Federal Government Office for the Status of Women, organises White Ribbon events on IDEVAW, encouraging prominent Australians to wear a White Ribbon.

2003: UNIFEM re-establishes the White Ribbon Campaign in Australia

Under the leadership of Libby Lloyd as President and Rosalind Strong as Vice President, the United Nations Development a Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and re-establish the White Ribbon Campaign in Australia. The Ambassador program commences and Andrew O’Keefe is the first White Ribbon Ambassador.

2004: The Australian movement grows

UNIFEM hire a part-time staff member to work on the White Ribbon Campaign and the first Australian White Ribbon website is launched. Amnesty International adopts the ‘It’s in our hands – Stop Violence Against Women’ 10-year international campaign.

2005: National Leadership Group formed

The National Leadership Group, chaired by Andrew O’Keefe, is formed with volunteers from diverse sectors. The Group guides the direction of the campaign and further develops the Ambassador program. The first White Ribbon Committees are established in the Hunter and Ballarat.

A Foundation is Established

2007: White Ribbon Foundation established

The White Ribbon Foundation is established as a legal entity for operational purposes and to demonstrate a long term commitment to the sustainability of the campaign in Australia. Andrew O’Keefe is Chair of the White Ribbon Foundation Board and its focus is on raising funds to create the annual White Ribbon Day campaign and other awareness raising initiatives.

2008: New White Ribbon research and resources developed

White Ribbon Foundation publishes a report on the impact of violence on young people, An Assault on our Future by Dr Michael Flood and Lara Fergus. A schools kit is developed to assist schools to organise activities around White Ribbon Day and Suzanne Grae becomes a White Ribbon Foundation partner.

2009 : Breaking the Silence Schools Program launched

Breaking the Silence is piloted in 10 NSW schools.

‘My Oath’ campaign launched

Calling on men to pledge to never commit, remain silent or excuse violence against women. It attracts over 13,000 signatories in its first year and is now a central feature of the White Ribbon Campaign.

2011: Introduction of ‘I Swear’ campaign

A number of high-profile men join the campaign aimed at prompting men to take the White Ribbon Oath. Libby Davies appointed as CEO. National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children is released.

2012: Workplace Accreditation Programlaunched

The Program is piloted, with 23 workplaces achieving accreditation and reaching 85,000 employees.

Launch of ‘Hey Mate’ active bystander campaign

Shows men what they can do when becoming aware of violence against women in everyday situations.

The Great Work Continues


The White Ribbon Foundation is renamed White Ribbon Australia. The White Ribbon Night campaign is launched. White Ribbon committees are formed in QLD, ACT and SA. Ken Gillespie becomes Chair of the White Ribbon Australia Board.


The Advocate and Diversity programs are launched. White Ribbon’s Free eLearning course is released. The Ambassador recommitment process commences. John Rosewarne becomes Chair of the White Ribbon Australia Board.

2015: White Ribbon Regional Forums held across Australia

Michael Kaufman, Walter De Keseredy, Karyn McCluskey and Dr Michael Flood run workshops in 10 locations across Australia with 600 people in attendance. The workshops cover how to engage men in preventing violence against women. A White Ribbon committee is formed in the NT.

2016: The White Ribbon Campaign is active in over 60 countries.

Nicholas Cowdery AM QC becomes Chair of the White Ribbon Australia Board. All States and Territories have a White Ribbon Committee.


STOP Kit resource is launched. Helping people See, Talk, Offer support and Prevent violence against women. #MeToo global movement brings attention to the wide-spread issue of sexual harassment and assault. The Advocate Program re-launches, with the Advocate role reserved for female White Ribbon Supporters.


New campaign Cheese for Change launched in March 2018. It encourages the community to gather together over a cheese platter to talk about preventing violence against women. Blog series “Speak Out” is launched with the first post written by Ambassador Andrew Swan. Tracy McLeod Howe is appointed as White Ribbon Australia CEO.

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