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10 minute Newington White Ribbon Boys Talk


What I an awesome sight….. standing up here seeing so many boys and young men wearing white ribbons this morning . 

Did you know white ribbon day is now an international effort in over 57 countries in the world, where men and boys are working to help end violence against women.

And we are making progress....just this week we saw Western Sydney MP Emma Hussar in her first speech to Parliament courageously reveal her gut wrenching account of growing up amidst domestic violence..  she described how women and children suffer in silence because they feel ashamed and embarrassed to talk about it, even though they know they are not to blame. She applauded the male support she has received in the labour party after sharing her story…and her message was… even if your voice shakes speak the truth…

So what can each of you do to help stop violence against women?

The best way to end violence is to stop it from happening in the first place; by standing up, speaking out and taking action to address its cause - gender inequality.


Personal Story

When I was a girl at school and at university I didn’t notice gender inequality. I was one of 2 girls, attended an all girls school PLC in Melbourne and went to university believing girls could do anything, which was reinforced by my Science class that was half male and female.

It wasn’t until I started work in the Agriculture Department that I suddenly noticed that men and women did not have the same opportunities, for example there were no female leaders amongst 500 scientists, no childcare so women had to resign when they had babies, and men were invested in for further study but not women.

The good news is things are changing..but not fast enough…


Kids pocket money example

Did you know  kid’s pocket money is still not evenly distributed between boys and girls.

Heritage Bank's 2015 Australian Pocket Money Survey showed the gender pay gap starts at home, with girls aged 12 and under getting 11.3 per cent less than boys.

Girls got $10.60 per week while boys got $11.80 -- that's an extra $62.40 each year.

Hands up if you think that’s not fair!

So the first thing we have to do is to educate ourselves on gender equality issues and notice it! Sexism and gender inequality is so woven into the fabric of our everyday lives that many of us, both boys and girls, men & women don’t see it, until we personally experience it…and when we do get a sudden shock! How did we not notice this before??

So this is where the work Angus and your gender equity committee are doing is so important …encouraging you to get involved in activities within and outside school to learn about the many examples of gender inequality and bias  that still exist in society, starting in our workplaces, in sport, in our home life, and in the media, and help do something about it.

One day many of you in his room are likely to be leaders based on current trend...

And my hope is you won’t be like many of our current male CEOs who in a recent survey didn’t see there were any gender issues until their daughters experienced discrimination in the workplace.

The good news is you are becoming aware of these gender equity issues early.. so you will be more successful leaders and fairer human beings..

The work Angus and the school is doing to address gender inequality is very similar to the work I do in Australian workplaces.

I work with leaders, staff and students in organisations including banks, universities, mining, power companies, and schools to help create workplace cultures that include everyone, so they can be the best they can be.

This work is very similar to your school vision to live your values and create a school where EVERY student and staff member feels respected, included and feels like they belong.

In the organisations I work in we start with building awareness and personal insight like you are doing. We are training people to understand how unconscious bias can undermine merit and fairness.  And we are taking action to change systems and processes so that both men and women can thrive…

However becoming aware is just a start …and not enough … to achieve a level playing field in life for our sisters, partners, daughters and grand daughters we all need to act and now.

Hands up how many of you have sisters, mothers, aunties, girl friends. All of us have women in our lives.

Gender inequality is not fair or just for any of us. It limits girl’s  and women’s life and career choices. Gender equality improves things for boys and men too…it frees boys up to be who they want to be…soboys are also not trapped by narrow definitions of masculinity …based on 6 pack abs, physical strength & toughness for example. For boys and men’s own mental health we must value more diverse ways of being a man.

For example do you think boys and men are less caring than girls?

Did you know Swedish dads stay home for a whole year year with their toddlers on parental leave, after their mothers go back to work and before the child goes to pre-school?

So what assumptions do you hold about jobs that men should do and jobs that women should do?  What happens in your home? Do you do the same jobs to earn pocket money as your sister?

We all want to live in a fair and just  world.. so how do we make this happen? What role can you play in addition to wearing a white ribbon…how can you get involved? What can you do to show your commitment to fairness and in this case gender equality?


Call to action

Today is about encouraging all boys and men to

  • Stand up
  • Speak out and
  • Act

beside women to achieve gender equality.

Think about one thing you could do in your own life, here at school, at home, on the station, with your friends, in your sporting team.

And I have some suggestions…

Put on your gender equality “glasses” and think about whatfairness looks like for you at home, at school, at the train station, on the sporting field…

Be curious, talk to girls and women in your life about their aspirations, and career and life choices, start to notice when things aren’t fair and just for others at home, at school, at parties, at sport, on the station

You could become a male advocate and champion of gender equality…use your voice and challenge the status quo when you see sexist behaviour where boys and girls are not treated with respect

Speak up about sexting

  • Question hurtful jokes & behaviour that make people feel excluded
  • Support and stand by each other – “school motto value you, support him, stand with her”
  • Get involved in the school activities that Angus and his committee are leading to drive change

As Australian of the Year and previous Army Chief David Morrison says “The behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept” 

And as we all now we all want to fit in…It takes courage to stand up and speak out.

Start within your own group of brave and this takes mental courage…. Bring to life your latest school motto “my strength is your support”..

Think about what you can say to your friends about jokes and things they are saying and doing that you don’t think are fair or just. Use yourself as a test…would you like these things being said about you? Some suggestions from white ribbon are…

  • If you are with friends and someone says something that makes you uncomfortable or that you feel is wrong, you could say: “I’m not sure what you mean. What did you say?”
  • Sometimes people forget they are talking about a real person. To remind them and change the conversation, you can say: “What if this was your sister?”
  • Give your opinion to show your disapproval: “I believe abusing a woman is wrong.”
  • If you are with a group of people, you’re probably not the only one feeling uncomfortable. Let others know they are not alone and encourage them to speak up by asking: “Am I the only one uncomfortable with this?”

Notice how is work distributed in your home. Who does what? Can you do something to help share the load more fairly?

And finally sign up to join the school Gender Equity Co Curricular Group and run activities within the school and externally to support real change.

A white ribbon and gender equity ‘Champion’ should not just be a noun, something one is, but a verb, something he does.

Hands up if you think there is something you can do to help?

Hands up if you would like to join Angus’s gender Equity Group and/or get involved in the committees activities. See Angus after this assembly and give him your name…

And remember as the great Indian leader Mahatma Ghandi said

We must become the change we wish to see in the world”