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Empowering boys to show respect

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Don’t be a butthead! A simple statement with a big message for all men from a student at the Power to End Violence Against Women Leadership Day – and it wasn’t lost on Power co-captain Tom Jonas.<br />

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“Good point,’’ he told the 95 secondary students taking part in the event at Port Adelaide Football Club this week.

“Schools and businesses and footy clubs are all built on having a really strong culture.

“When our recruiters go to the draft, they don’t necessarily pick the most talented player, they pick quality people that are going to make our club better.’’

The event aimed to empower participants by encouraging them to think about their core values and beliefs, and the qualities that make a good leader.

Students present had or will soon participate in the Power to End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) program, which is delivered in schools by Power Community Ltd to teach young men about respectful relationships.

“Whether it’s going out of your way to ask someone else how their day is going or holding the door open for someone, it’s those little things we can do that can sometimes get lost in our society and don’t always get recognised, but they can make a big difference to someone else’s day,’’ Jonas said.

A joint partnership between Centacare, PAFC and the State Government, PTEVAW has engaged 5000 students over the past four years.

Participants learn about respect, trust, gender equality, healthy relationships and what constitutes abusive behaviour.

In her opening address, Carolyn Power, Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention, implored the students to play their part by having the courage to challenge disrespectful behaviours and attitudes.

“The only way we are going to end violence against women and their children, and also men who experience domestic violence, is by changing our core beliefs and attitudes – particularly towards women,’’ she said.

“It’s up to you guys to continue to shine a light on it and call it out when you see it. We can’t do it without you.’’

A report by the Australian Centre for Community Services Research at Flinders University has highlighted how the deployment of high profile AFL stars can ‘cut through’ unhealthy biases and complicit silence.

“The PTEVAW program is about getting into schools and using sport as a hook and our research shows that the sport element does cut through and gets the attention of the boys in the classroom, so that’s a really important finding,” said
Dr Jonathon Louth, lead author of the report.

The research outlined how messages about respectful relationships were sticking with male secondary school students beyond the classroom when delivered by AFL players and program facilitators.

“We ran focus groups with boys who took part in the program over the past two years and tracked changes between the groups. We found certain messages did stick with the boys because they took notice when Travis Boak or Ollie Wines talked about treating women respectfully,” said Dr Louth.

“One of the most important findings in the report is the need for commitment over a prolonged period. Primary prevention doesn’t happen overnight because you won’t see positive results until you’ve done it for a considerable amount of time.”

For more information about the program, contact Jake Battifuoco, Youth Programs manager, Power Community Ltd, on 8440 3002.

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