Addressing violence against women through Our Watch's Sports Engagement Program
Patty Kinnersly from OurWatch talks about addressing violence against women through OurWatch's Sports Engagement Program.
Thanks very much for having me and I’ll try and start as quickly as I can to get that awful photo off. Thanks very much for the opportunity to be here today and I think what’s going to be really clear as the day moves on is that there’s going to be key themes and if we did 75% of the same thing across the day that we’ll be starting to cater for the inclusion that we need across all of our groups so I think that’s already coming out which is really interesting.
I will briefly talk about what ‘Our Watch’ does so that it puts in context what the National Sports Organisation’s initiative does and you’ll see that it actually relates quite strongly to some of the conversations we’ve already had so ‘Our Watch’ was formed a couple of years ago by the Victorian Government and the Commonwealth Government to drive nationwide change around preventing violence against women before it occurs so we all know about the rates of violence against women in this country and we all know there are a lot - not enough but a lot of services working with women who are escaping violence or men who are perpetrators of violence.
That’s not our role. Our role isn’t about understanding how we reduce the rates of violence from occurring in the first place so what we needed to do firstly was to understand what causes the violence to occur in the first place because it’s hard to put initiatives in place to try and stop that violence occurring unless we know what causes it and we also needed to develop some sort of shared framework so that everybody in the country, everybody in the room understands what their role in that is. Where do they fit and it’s not only about individuals, it’s about workplaces, it’s about Governments, it’s about the systems and structures that create the environment that we all live in and so what’s our job in that?
So the first thing we did was to create what we called a shared framework for the prevention of violence against women and it’s called ‘Change the Story’. It’s on our website and there’s a clip that goes with it that’s terrific in sort of snap-shotting it. I’m talking about like a week’s worth of presentations here so I apologise for skipping along.
So what we needed to do and I won’t go too deeply into each of these is to understand what causes violence or drives violence and for a long time people in this sector, feminists and others have said, “We think it’s gender inequality” and that’s been borne out to be true but we can’t just go gender inequality spot. And that’s what we’ll do. We’ve tried to figure out the key drivers and want to pull that out and see what that looks like so if I look at these really quickly in a sporting sense the condoning of violence against women and in some ways the clip was interesting of the people not being able to read out the tweets but that stuff about “Boys will be boys” or “He was under pressure” or “They’d just lost the final” or what have you or the joke that happens when a group of players are standing around and nobody says anything or we just say, “Well, that’s just men being men letting off a bit of steam” so we’re condoning the violence against women.
Men’s control of decision-making, so we’ve touched on that quite a bit today already. Men in positions of power, men making decisions about how the sporting club runs - Will we have a women’s team? How does that look? Where are the decisions made? Where is the money invested? All of those things contribute as well.
The stereotype constructs of masculinity and femininity so this is what men need to look like when they play sport. This is what being a man is about. This is what being masculine is about and even though we haven’t yet to my knowledge really nailed down what the drivers of violence against gay, lesbian and transgender people are, this is one of them. I will be really - I probably shouldn’t have said that so firmly because the evidence isn’t in yet but this notion that real men are not gay and real men don’t play football and I’m sure that that will be really interesting to talk to Andrew about that, or women don’t play football, that’s butch and so you don’t do that so that notion of this is what a woman looks like and this is what a man looks like and this is what they should and shouldn’t do and disrespect towards women in the male peer relation so the sporting club - the group of men coming together, the atmosphere that that involves.
I was speaking to a young man recently who in his mind is on his way to an AFL career has been bumped up into the Senior’s football team because he’s good. He’s going really well. He’s 16 and he was showing up to his first training with the men, the senior chaps and he the week before had also summoned up the courage to ask the girl of his dreams to go out and she’d said “Yes” and so he arrives at the football for his first training with these men and the Captain says, “Oh g’day Watto. I hear you’re going out with Cynthia. Have you done her yet?” and it was even worse than that and so here’s a 16‑year-old and in that moment he learns this is the culture, this is the way we talk about women. Nobody took the Captain on and what does he do about that? What does he do about that between now and the next training? What does he understand to be his role? What does he understand to be masculinity so it’s just a really small example but it’s the peer relations that breed that kind of thing and those examples really high level and quick in a sporting context, they all put women second.
They all just chip away at women as valuable. They all tell you that women aren’t quite as important and all of that leads us to a foundation where violence against women is more likely, more accepted, more okay and less challenged but in our work, as I said we’re not working with men who perpetrate violence or women who are victims of violence, we’re working with everybody in this room to say, “How do we change that underlying environment?” and we do that through what we call settings and the settings are workplaces, they’re education, they’re sport, they’re media, they’re faith communities and we’ve talked already a lot about how important sport is as a setting for cultural change and we have found when any time when we’re working with any of those settings that presenting the drivers this way it’s the negative if you like. We’ve found it very useful to present those in a more positive way and to give people what that looks like for them in their setting and so here we say, “We’re going to challenge the condoning of violence against women” so when somebody tells a sexist joke in the group that Leadership actually stands up and says, “We don’t talk about women like that” so we actually challenge that or we don’t let stuff goes past. Ken Lay talks a lot about that as do other significant leaders about the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.
We promote women’s independence in decision-making. Do we have women on our Boards? Are women making decisions about what happens at this club or organisation? Are they making decisions about their own decisions about sport for example or are men making the decision about what we do with women’s sport? We will challenge gender stereotypes so we won’t accept that to be a man you have to look like this or a woman, you have to look like this. We’re talking about athletes. We’re talking about people who want to express themselves. We’re talking about people who want to be part of a community. We need to strip away the stereotypes that go with it and to be frank we’ve all grown up with those. They’re pretty deep in us and we don’t even know sometimes they’re quite unconscious. We have to be a bit gentle with ourselves in that as well. You’re not going to get this right straight away.
A friend of mine said the other day she was going to watch one of her kids do ballet and I said, “Is it Emma?” and she said, “No, it’s Pete” so I had done it even though I’m supposed to be an expert in this stuff. Ballet must mean a girl so we’ve got to keep working on this stuff and to strengthen the positive and equal respect for relationships.
What do people see when they see the senior people in the club talking to each other? When there’s an event after a game is it one where women and children and men feel equal and respected and safe?
I’ve written Tom Rockliff there for obvious reasons and that challenging of when somebody does something wrong. Have people heard about the tweet today from the Brisbane Lions Captain? That club has come out really quickly to say “That’s not acceptable and we’re not going to accept that” and that’s the sort of leadership you need to happen really quickly.
So in working with sport as a setting one of the first things ‘Our Watch’ did as a National organisation was partner with other really big National organisations so these four National sporting organisations partnered with us and using that framework of positive action to say, “What can we do in our sporting organisation to start breaking down those gender drivers of violence against women?” and so plans have been developed with these organisations and in Todd Greenberg’s defence he has been quite good in some of this and everyone is on a journey and has a long way to go but he’s been very supportive of this work since he’s been in that role and a lot of really good work has come out of this so far and it will continue but backing up on Kate’s story actually - so one of the really important pieces of work that came out of this project earlier this year was the signing of a statement by the CEOs of those four organisations and the CEO of our organisation Mary (the short woman) to say our organisation individually and together and you can imagine the reach of these four organisations have together, we’re going to make changes; we’re going to say things out loud. We’re not going to allow this to happen. We’re going to really take this issue on as an important one and the famous Eddie McGuire incident and we don’t want to get too much into the people and that but as an incident, Kate is 100% right. The CEO signed this document. That incident came to light and Gillon McLachlan came out really quickly to say that’s not what the AFL believes and we’re going to do something about that so in some ways working with organisations also helps to hold them to account because in the same way that Gillon is a male champion of change he is also now the CEO of an organisation that has made an out loud commitment about this work and so really couldn’t let that go past. I fully believe he means everything he said but he also is representing a huge organisation with significant power and needed to stand up in that situation.
The really important thing about this shared statement too was that when something like that happened it actually fed a conversation around the country actually and so we were talking with our colleagues at Rugby Union and Rugby League who weren’t - they were a bit buffered from that because it was Victorian saying, “What would we say in that situation? It will come up for us at some stage. What are the key messages?” so building the capacity of those organisations.
One of the things that’s also happened is that the sporting organisations themselves are taking a really strong leadership role so there is a clip there that was developed and you can look that up yourself where the players and the clubs came together and made positive statements about what they believe in gender equality and what they’re going to do and what they think needs to be done and a lot of the conversations that have been had in Rugby Union and League and now in the AFL with the Women’s League about equal pay for women as athletes and it really helps for those clubs to have a framework, an understanding of why that’s important and then it gives them a path forward.
The other things that we’ve been doing - this is just another example of one of the clips but is that there’s been a lot of stretch work going on. We’ve set some targets in partnership with the four organisations but really once they’ve got going they’ve really stretched and taken on their own extra work because they can see it’s important and so all of the four National sport organisations are going to be working together on the ‘16 days of activism’ Twitter Project. There’s been some work to develop online training modules for players and coaches and that’s been really important and when that’s been tested it will be shared with everyone. All this work is about sharing and actually seeing the four organisations coming together to share has been really important as well and there’s been high levels of trust and high levels of sharing even amongst these quite competitive codes because they understand yes, it’s market value and all of those things but it’s bigger than that. This is all about something that we all need to work on.
The other thing that we’re looking at at the moment is will sporting standards be useful for clubs at a more club level and what will that look like but we’re going to consult with the sector about that starting with the four partnership organisations.
The work in Victoria - well it’s actually National about the Women’s AFL League is really important because it says women as athletes should be valued. Women can be on television. Women can be coaches and in senior positions. This is valuable and important and we’re going to put it up there for people to see. The thing about you can’t be what you can’t see - the little girl is looking on the television at Daisy Pearce and co saying, “I’m going to play football when I grow up” so that’s really important leadership work.
I’m going to skip over the next slide if I could and I will just finish - I’m not going to finish on this slide because when I looked in preparation for today and I looked at the list of things that you were going to cover I just thought oh my goodness, this is such a huge responsibility for sporting organisations to be taking on all of this and it must blow your brain but I think in this work if your organisation is looking across it’s organisation at all your systems through your leadership, through your governance and Kate’s discussion about the governance at Carlton Football Club is really important. CEO, Board, people on the Chair, people in senior leadership positions all getting on board, all putting resources in, all putting their knowledge in and commitment but if you are setting up your organisation across all of those areas to be inclusive, to be thoughtful, to be looking for how you can make your sport accessible to everyone you will get most of the way with most of this work and then you need to do some tailoring to make sure that you meet the specific needs of different groups and I’d just like to finish if I could and again Kate touched on this before.
This notion of sporting organisations - can you just get on and win premierships and the Carlton Football Club when they released their ‘Carlton Respects’ initiative. The CEO was interviewed on the radio and the radio host said, “Steven, can’t you just get on and win a premiership for the club. That would be good” and as a Carlton supporter I also would like that and he said without any wrestle inside, without any internal struggle, “We can do both. They’re not mutually exclusive” and in fact I think if you look over any successful sporting organisation they’re ones that you respect for a lot of the other reasons. They’re really inclusive. They feel welcoming. They look after people and I think that this is just a really important message. Don’t get too stressed about this. Keep working hard at it. Keep trying hard and they’re not mutually exclusive.