Australian High Commission
Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros, Reunion Island (consular)

2018 White Ribbon Fundraising Dinner - High Commissioner's Speech


Vice Prime Minister & Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development & Family Welfare, the Hon. Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo

The Hon Maya Hanoomanjee, Speaker of the National Assembly

HE Mrs Usha Dwarka-Canabady, Secretary for Foreign Affairs

Ms Mélanie Valère Cicéron, President of Passerelle

Mr Stellio Prefumo, President of Chrysalide

Mr Nizam Peeroo, Les Chefs du Coeur

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen


I would like to wish you all a very warm welcome this evening and sincerely thank you for your support to the Australian High Commission and Les Chefs du Coeur’s White Ribbon fundraising Dinner.

Without the support of Emmanuelle Coquet-Madoo, Les Chefs Du Coeur and Le Suffren, this event wouldn’t be possible so a special thanks to our partners. Let us enjoy each other’s company, eat delicious food prepared by Les Chefs du Coeur, drink fine Australian beverages from Audacity wines – thank you Allan and Evelyn Burns for your generous support. Let’s enjoy performances by award winning artists – all who have donated their time and resources to tonight’s event. We would also like to thank all of the companies who have donated prizes for the lucky draw and auction items: special thanks go to the Gourmet Emporium, Les Chefs du Coeur,, Le Suffren Hotel & Marina, PhoenixBev, Les Vergers de Labourdonnais, Adamas, Audacity wines, Vaco, Nathalie Perichon, Adamas Jewellers and Aline Wong.


I would like to acknowledge Mr Jason Meyer, Senior Project Officer, Department of Corrections of South Australia who is in Mauritius with the support of UNDP on a scoping mission to draft a training module for the Government of Mauritius towards the rehabilitation of perpetrators of domestic violence. I’d like to thank the Vice Prime Minister for your attendance tonight and acknowledge the efforts of the Government of Mauritius to address Gender Based Violence and the efforts of Parliament under the leadership of the Speaker and Gender Caucus.


Your attendance tonight is the first step in a shared action agenda, and will raise important funds for the Passerelle Shelter for Homeless women and children and Chrysalide women’s shelter.

Tonight we here to show our support to end violence against women in the name of the White Ribbon cause.

.                 As you may know, the White Ribbon was initiated after a student at the University of Montreal divided his class by gender then massacred 14 female classmates. In response to this horrific bias, a group of men decided to speak out and work to stop men’s violence against women and in 1991 they initiated White Ribbon as a male-led initiative. White Ribbon Day is now fixed on 23 November and the movement continues to grow with men and boys working to end violence against women in over 60 countries.

.                 Violence against women is unacceptable, anywhere, anytime and it is to our collective shame that no country is free from it.  Certainly, not Australia.

.                 Violence against women and girls is pervasive and persistent throughout the world and is a gross violation of human rights.

.                 1 in 3 women globally will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

.                 Violence takes multiple forms such as physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse

-               it may occur in the home or outside of the home, in the workplace and includes domestic and family violence, sexual assault, sexual exploitation and trafficking, and harmful practices such as early or forced marriage, and female genital mutilation.

.                 Men who use violence come from all social, economic, and cultural backgrounds and family situations. Men’s violence against women occurs across all of the world and across all cultural and ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, educational levels, occupations, socio-economic statuses and sexual orientations.

.                 In Australia, statistics tell us that on average:

-               one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner,

-               Intimate partner violence is a leading contributor to illness, disability and premature death for women aged 18-44,

-               Violence not only affects women, but the children of mothers experiencing domestic violence have higher rates of social and emotional problems than other children,

-               violence against women is estimated to cost the Australian economy alone, $22 billion a year.

.                 We know that Gender inequality is the root cause of violence against women

-               To eliminate it we need all members of our society, including men and boys, to transform gendered social norms, attitudes and behaviours to eliminate VAW.

-               Effective responses to violence against women require a balance between services and responses, access to justice and prevention activities focused on social norms change.

-               We need to start challenging norms and behaviour to stop inequality, but we also need to change structures and laws and have people at the highest levels, especially men, work to make change.

.                 One of the ways Australia is trying to address this is through the innovative Male Champions of Change program, founded in 2010 by the former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, together with a group of senior Australian businessmen committed to increasing women’s representation in leadership positions. 

-               The Male Champions for Change in Australia believe gender equality is one of the nation’s most significant societal and economic issues.

-               The heart of The Male Champions of Change strategy involves men of power and influence forming a high profile coalition to achieve change on gender equality issues in organisations and communities.

-               Male Champions for Change has also taken a leadership position on domestic and family violence recognising the impacts on Australian workplaces. This year Male Champions for Change released a toolkit to ensure that our workplace cultures, policies and processes support those impacted by violence, deal with perpetrators of violence and address underlying cause – gender inequality.

.                 Domestically, Australia has made women’s safety a national priority.

.                 The National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children (2010-2022) aims to allow Australian women and their children to live free from violence in safe communities.

-               Key actions under the National Plan include:

:                 stopping violence before it happens in the first place and supporting women who have experienced violence

:                 increasing men’s involvement in gender equality and reducing violence, as influencers and role models; and involving men and boys in primary prevention initiatives.

.                 Changing the norms around violence is crucial,

-               There are many statements you may have heard that contribute to justifying violence:

:                 She was asking for it

:                 Just as many women abuse men

:                 Women shouldn’t wear short skirts if they don’t want the attention

:                 Men can’t control their sexual urges

:                 I’m not violent towards women, so why should I care?

.                 You have probably heard some or all of these statements. They are known as violence-supportive statements because they justify, excuse, minimise or trivialise violence against women.

.                 We will be seeing shortly short videos currently being run on Australian television, the “stop it at the start” campaign. (

.                 As parents, and as influencers of young people, we want the best for kids. We want them to have positive experiences, healthy relationships and opportunities to learn. We want them to understand right and wrong. We want them to respect others, and respect themselves.

.                 We do our best to set a good example, but sometimes, without meaning to, we might say things that excuse disrespectful behaviour in young people.

.                 It’s important we understand the cycle of violence. Not all disrespect towards women results in violence. But all violence against women starts with disrespectful behaviour.

.                 From a young age, boys and girls start to believe there are reasons and situations that make disrespectful behaviour acceptable. We might be surprised that saying things like “it’s ok, he just did it because he likes you” and “boys will be boys” excuses this behaviour in the minds of young people. Yet it’s easy to make those excuses without even realising it.

.                 The “stop it at the start’ campaign is helping us to have a better understanding of where disrespectful behaviours and the cycle of violence against women can start. We cannot afford to ignore disrespect at any time.

.                 So what are the practical everyday actions everyone can take?

-          Never let anyone blame a victim.

-          Never let anyone make excuses for a perpetrator.

-          Speak out in disrespectful situations

-          Consider whether your own attitudes and behaviours towards women and men, girls and boys might be enforcing gender stereotypes or unconsciously condoning disrespect for women.

.                 I encourage everyone here today to recognise, and not excuse, any form of disrespect they might hear or see. Each of us has a role to play and sometimes it’s just the simple act of stopping, reflecting and questioning that can be enough to make a powerful change.

.                 And I commend all those in the communities working so hard every day to end violence against women.


Thank you

23 November 2018