Peter Gordon is urging all sports clubs to be forces for good in the community and take the lead when it comes to the treatment of women.
The Western Bulldogs president is the keynote speaker at a Leading Change Presidents’ Dinner held for sports clubs and organisations in the region.
The Women’s Health Grampians initiative, which is being held with partner organisations Ballarat Community Health and Sports Central, is aimed at promoting gender equality and preventing violence against women.
“Clubs can be a force for good,” Mr Gordon said.
“Just as I think it is true some clubs, cultures and the industry itself has sometimes not been a force for good in the lack of respect and the lack of responsibility they have taken in this area.”
He said change had to come from all sporting codes at both national and grassroots levels.
“It is important for people who are in positions of leadership in those clubs, like the president, the coach, the captain and the leading players, to come out and speak about these issues,” Mr Gordon said.
“And when episodes of violence occur, be it language or behaviour, that they are addressed publicly and it is seen that there is not a tolerance for it.”
Mr Gordon said the Western Bulldogs looked at taking action as both a responsibility and a way of making a meaningful difference.
The club has introduced men’s and women’s health programs for the public, Sons of the West and Daughters of the West.
Mr Gordon said both programs contained education around family violence, with the men’s program focused on respect and responsibility and the women’s program on rights and communication such as reporting violence.
Meanwhile, the expanding AFL Women's competition is a step towards gender equality, with the Western Bulldogs hoping to build more facilities at Whitten Oval to allow their women and men to train at the same time.
“Being one of the first AFLW teams is of tremendous importance and pride to us,” Mr Gordon.
“Our women in playing roles, staff roles, supporting roles and director roles are making a massive contribution to our club and we want to make those opportunities the norm.”
The Presidents’ Dinner will be held on Monday, November 27, at Sovereign Hill. For more information visit whg.org.au.