Men and boys need to play a key role in creating the social conditions to eliminate gendered violence against women, leaders say.
This was the key message shared during a White Ribbon Ballarat breakfast webinar on Friday.
White Ribbon Ballarat chairperson Jade Hateley said everyone needed to work to change social norms that condone abuse, with gender inequality and learned behaviours at the heart of gendered violence.
"No boy is born violent," she said.
"This White Ribbon Day we all need to play our part and we need men to be equipped with the tools they need to make change within themselves, within their communities and society.
"We know to end violence against women, we must engage men, boys and society in this work."
Ms Hately said more than 40 women have been killed by their current or former partner this year in Australia.
White Ribbon Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on how we want our community to be different and how we can be the change we want to see.Scott Mills, Child and Family Services
On average, one woman each week is murdered by her current or former partner.
Data shows COVID-19 lockdowns created spikes in violence against women and reduced the ability of victims to seek help.
Our Watch chief executive Patty Kinnersly said violence against women was a national emergency that nobody was comfortable with, but we all needed to work together to make change.
She said evidence showed gender inequality was driving gendered violence and establishing an environment where violence was more likely to happen.
Ms Kinnersly said the expressions of gender inequality were dismissing or condoning violence against women and men's control of decision making and limits on women's independence.
Other expressions of inequality are stereotype constructs of masculinity and femininity and disrespect of women in relationships.
One in three Australian women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a man since the age of 15.
Police are called to attend a family violence incident nationwide every two minutes.
Ms Kinnersly said we could change the story and everyone could take simple actions like not allowing sexist jokes in tearooms and promoting women's independence and decision making.
"Most people who are still holding a lot of the influence are men," she said.
"As men you have a genuine opportunity to be one of the men making change. What are you doing in your workplace or sporting organisation school or TAFE to promote gender equality?"
Child and Family Services family violence intake and assessment lead Scott Mills also spoke during the Ballarat breakfast event about how men's behaviour change programs translated to community change.
Mr Mills said the aim of the program was to help men acknowledge their behaviour and the impact it has had on family members.
He said over many years working in the field he had learnt the best approach was not to confront and hold men accountable for their actions, but help them to realise this themselves.
He said an important learning was to work with men in a respectful way by listening to them and inviting them to reflect on their own values and beliefs.
"Most of the men we work with are not different from us in many ways - they want loving relationships, fairness, equality and respect," Mr Mills said.
"They are the values they want to convey in their relationships but for a multitude of reasons they don't do that.
"We try to get them to acknowledge their behaviour doesn't reflect what they want for the people in their lives and themselves and then we get them to think about what can be different in their relationships.
"We are interested in working in a way that is curious and invitational... so they can get to the point where they can identify what they can do themselves rather than us telling them what they need to do to change.
"Rather than us holding them accountable for what they have done we want them to get to a position where they are accountable to their family members for their behaviours."
Mr Mills said social changed needed to start within ourselves.
"For men, think about how do we hold space, how do we limit women's experience, how do we take gendered positions, how do you lead in a way that reinforces gendered norms?
"If we are going to finger point at others, we have to look at our own relationships with these issues.
"White Ribbon Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on how we want our community to be different and how we can be the change we want to see."
Ms Hateley said change required social and cultural transformation starting at the individual level.
"We ask you don't just shake your head, don't be an bystander, get involved and make the best possible change you can," she said.
"We need to work together for a future where gender equality is a lived reality and it is free from men's violence and abuse."
This year's White Ribbon Day theme was 'how can men make change?'.
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