|Andrew O'Keefe addressing other White Ribbon Ambassadors|
|Ambassador of the Year Mick Doleman spoke passionately about the toll of domestic violence.|
|Me with other finalists.|
I was also honoured to be one of the finalists.
Last year's Ambassador of the Year, Nick Mazzarella had this to say about each of the finalists:
The Selection Committee had a difficult time in choosing from amongst these inspiring finalists, as each of them stood out in a number of ways.
Finalist Peter Daglish - the Capital Works Officer at Maribyrnong City Council - never shy’s away from sharing his message of non-violence and respect for women. Whether at home, at work, or umpiring a local football game, Peter is a role model in his community. Peter even has a t-shirt that reads “Real men in Maribyrnong say NO to violence against women.”
Brian Sullivan, Master of the Counselling Program for the School of Social Work and Human Services at the University of Queensland may not wear a t-shirt, but he holds respect, justice and dignity as his core values. This alignment of principles with White Ribbon allows him to wear his Ambassador pin proudly when giving speeches to students, executives, or community members.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch is the Corporate Spokesperson and Sponsor for Domestic and Family Violence across New South Wales with the NSW Police Force. Mark’s leadership has pushed the Police Force to be proactive, and he has gone beyond his job description in ensuring that Senior Police and the NSW Police Force more generally understand the importance of the role the police play in prevention now, and into the future.
Also playing a pivotal role in raising awareness is Phil Cooper, the Community Development Officer for the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association. Phil has done fantastic work recruiting and training new Ambassadors in the Aboriginal community. Most recently, he recruited his “Fitzroy Allstars Football Team” to be Ambassadors, and he has provided the players with training to become spokespeople on the subject of ending violence against women.
Also engaging local sport teams is Kevin Maher, the Industrial Relations Advisor for Abigroup Contractors. Also the President of the Macquarie Scorpions rugby team, Kevin enlisted his team to help shift cultural norms and change attitudes about violence against women. The team is working to end violence through their new initiative “Let’s Tackle Domestic Violence.”
In addition to reaching youth through sport, White Ribbon Ambassadors are also reaching youth through the school system. None have been more instrumental in doing this than Sydney Regional Director of Education, finalist Dr Phil Lambert. Phil’s work has been critical in developing and successful implementing the White Ribbon Principal’s ‘Breaking the Silence’ Program. The program brings the message of anti-violence to students and teachers and provides them with a forum in which these sensitive issues can be discussed. Phil’s leadership has been instrumental in the incredible success it has had to date, and has established a strong foundation from which it can grow.
At the heart of all of these types of endeavours, are Ambassadors who are engaged in their roles and are enthusiastic – showing initiative in their involvement - like Reece Harley. The National Policy Director at Left Right Think Tank, Reece uses his personal and professional networks to spread the White Ribbon Message. At one point or another, every member of the White Ribbon staff has contacted Reece for his invaluable assistance. Whether looking for his opinions, helping to organise an event in Perth, raising funds, or getting acquainted with new Ambassadors from WA, Reece is always keen to help and he never shies away from the issues.
John Whop, the Co-ordinator for the Waibe Thursday Island Men's Shed is also an Ambassador committed to doing what he can and is always looking for ways to be more engaged. Living on the remote Island, John will share his passion for non-violence with tourists and visitors who pass through as well as the
locals. He also travels to Darwin, Batchelor, Cairnes and Brisbane along with 14 nearby rural communities to promote the Campaign and ask people to support the prevention of violence against women.
Giving talks on behalf of White Ribbon is old hat for Ambassador Joseph Masika, Chairperson of the African Communities Council for South Australia. His consistent support to the campaign and to other campaigners has been evident with his delivery of educational workshops (in his free time no less) on ending silence on domestic violence in African communities. His advocacy is a large part of why women in the emerging communities he works with are gaining more equality and higher-level positions.
Finalist Stephen Page, Partner at the Harrington Law Practice, is also a powerful advocate for the Campaign. Whether he is amending state laws, lobbying the national government, writing legislative reviews on behalf of White Ribbon, or providing the Queensland White Ribbon Working Group with advice and direction, Stephen is constantly striving to improve conditions and advocate for positive change.
Mick Doleman, Deputy National Secretary for the Maritime Union of Australia also believes that advocacy is a key to Campaign’s success. As a result of his efforts, all male MUA officials, officers and many members have taken the Oath or become Ambassadors themselves.