$1 Million Granted to Prevent Violence against Women and Children

The National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), Netball Australia and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) have each been granted $250,000 to prevent violence against women and their children.

The grants are a component of the Our Watch Sports Engagement Program and are funded through the Australian Government's $1million Sports Grants Bank.

"Sport plays a critical role in our community and as such sporting organisations have the opportunity to make a positive difference in preventing domestic and family violence," Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison said.

"This funding will increase the capacity of these organisations to influence public attitudes on gender equality, which we know is one of the underlying causes of violence against women.

"I thank Tom Scully (AFL), Caitlin Thwaites (Netball), and Aiden Tolman (NRL) for representing their sporting team mates today, and acknowledge the ARU's commitment during their World Cup preparations."

Our Watch Chair Natasha Stott Despoja said the organisation will assist sporting codes to embed gender equality and respectful relationships into their networks and communities.

"Through our Sports Engagement Program, we are proud to announce our partnerships with such wide-reaching sporting organisations to build their capacity and expertise to prevent violence against women and their children," said Ms Stott Despoja.

"Sporting clubs and organisations bring together large numbers of people, and provide a readymade environment to promote women’s participation and opportunities. These clubs and organisations can help eliminate gender-based discrimination and violence-supportive attitudes.

"Evidence shows that people who support gender inequality and sexism are more likely hold attitudes that condone or excuse violence against women, therefore, it is appropriate that we challenge these attitudes in settings where we can have maximum reach, such as the sporting community,” said Ms Stott Despoja.

NRL Head of Community, Adam Check said it was important to create a culture that promotes respectful attitudes and behaviours both on and off the field.

"The NRL could not be clearer on this matter… there is no place for domestic violence in our game or society," Mr Check said. 

"The Our Watch Sports Engagement Program will help the NRL continue to raise awareness of the need to stop violence against women and support educational programs to drive behavioural change."

AFL Chief Executive Officer, Gillon McLachlan, said the organisation is committed to ensuring safe, welcoming and inclusive environments for all people involved in the sport.

"We are fortunate to be chosen by Our Watch to receive a grant to increase our efforts to prevent violence against women and their children," he said.

"The AFL is well aware that gender equality is an important factor in the prevention of violence against women. We are committed to ensuring everyone has the right to feel safe, to be treated with respect, to be valued and feel accepted for who they are.

Netball Australia Chief Executive Officer, Kate Palmer, said that respect and equality are central to every sport.

"It is essential that netball promotes fair, inclusive and respectful behaviours and attitudes both on and off the court. As one of the sports selected for an Our Watch Sports Engagement Program grant we take this responsibility very seriously and are pleased to be able to further our efforts to prevent violence against women and their children.

"Too many lives are lost to domestic violence in Australia. Netball can engage with our community to provide the supportive environments that effect positive change," said Ms Palmer.

Australian Rugby Union Chief Executive Officer, Bill Pulver, said "The ARU is very excited to partner with Our Watch on this important cause. Australian Rugby prides itself on the strong values and behaviours of the code and we look forward to implementing a range of initiatives that will help make a lasting difference."

"With one Australian woman killed every week by a current or former partner, the ARU believes it is everyone’s responsibility to address the issue. Indeed, sporting codes have a unique responsibility as they can be a catalyst for change on complex issues facing our society."

"Rugby prides itself on being an inclusive sport. One of the ARU’s strategic priorities is increasing female participation and the promotion of women in Rugby, whether it be players, administrators, or fans."

Our Watch invites contributions from state governments, philanthropic organisations and the corporate sector to contribute to the future development of the Sports Grants Bank.