This weekend’s sporting action will be whitewashed with players all over the Limestone Coast uniting for the White Ribbon Round to raise awareness of family and domestic violence.
The special event started in 2018 when the Western Border football and netball leagues wore white, but after a two-year break due to COVID-19, the round is back bigger than ever.
Not only will the Western Border players take part, they will be joined by the Mount Gambier Pioneers NBL1 South basketball teams, Limestone Coast Football Association, Lower South East Hockey Association, plus the Mid South Eastern and Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara football and netball competitions.
Having all senior players wear a white ribbon in the major winter sporting competitions across all points of the region will spread a strong message throughout the Limestone Coast, while the Pioneers will take it a step further and wear white warmup tops made especially for the occasion.
The special round has been organised by the Limestone Coast Family Violence Action Group and member Peter Zeitz said they are thrilled to see the sporting community respond so passionately behind an important cause.
“I think people recognises it is a really worthwhile cause,” he said.
“All the organisations we approached have not hesitated and we are really grateful for everyone who has jumped on board.”
The white arm bands will be seen everywhere to raise awareness, encourage conversations and hopefully create positive change.
Tragically 18 women have been killed due to domestic and family violence already in 2022.
Sadly, Zeitz said this serious issue has also previously occurred in the Limestone Coast and has many long-term impacts on families which is why this round is so important.
“In its extreme on average one woman per week is killed as a result of domestic violence and this has occurred within the region,” he said.
“There is a risk to the health and well-being of a person on occasions when there has been serious assault or homicide.
“But even scaling back from that extreme, just the impact it has on families forcing women and children to flee and even become homeless and financially disadvantaged.
“The stats suggest it is an ongoing issue in the community so this will be a great way to bring it to the forefront of peoples minds.”
The Limestone Coast Family Violence Action Group is made up of a number of community members and volunteers with an aim to support domestic and family issues.
It has become a platform to hold different initiatives to raise awareness and provide support for the issue.
In addition to the White Ribbon Sports Round, the group has also held activities such as a vigil for those who have passed due to the issue on the nationwide Domestic Violence Remembrance Day, which has grown rapidly.
Other projects include a white ribbon breakfast held in November each year and work with schools and the library to continue spreading the message.
Despite the White Ribbon Round growing enormously since it was last held in 2019, Zeitz said this year was all about getting it back in peoples minds and believes it can become even bigger in the future.
“This year was all about reintroducing it and getting it back on the table,” he said.
“But there is maybe an opportunity for the AFL to provide some speakers to come down to the region and host an event in the future.
“But this year it is great to have so many leagues and associations on board to get it back on the agenda after Covid.”
With numerous sad ramifications caused by domestic violence, Zeitz hopes the White Ribbon Round can ensure the right messages can be sent to provide support at times of need.
“It is really important if we can highlight people having a bit more to say when behavior is not good,” he said.
“A high percentage of perpetrators are male which is why we want to see the senior men wearing the ribbons, but we have also extended that to the female and children teams playing because its more about raising awareness for a community issue.
“We just want to cause conversations and make people aware of it and maybe reach out to support people they know.
“It is a good message to send to the youth and families involved in sport.”
If you require urgent assistance or are concerned for your safety or the safety of someone you know, please contact: Emergency Services 000, 1800 RESPECT (1800 7437 732) Domestic Violence Crisis Line (1800 800 098), Mens Line Australia (1300 789 978) or the Limestone Coast Family Violence Action Group (0455 683 335).