Northern Rivers United will again stand up against domestic violence with 26 regional rugby league clubs across NSW as part of the NSW government’s Tackling Violence program.
Rugby League great David Peachey was in Lismore yesterday to deliver domestic violence education workshops to Northern United and students at Lismore high school. ‘It’s great Northern United and the Northern Rivers communities have continued to support this program’, said Peachey. ‘Tackling Violence has been running for five years now, and Northern have been part of the program for four years. We’ve seen some great results, for clubs and for communities and individuals, who have taken a stand and said violence against women is not on.’
Northern United and the Maclean boys at Lower Clarence have been key clubs for this program. Tackling Violence is part of the ethos of these clubs now, it’s part of their core business. ‘Nineteen of the top 20 local government areas for domestic violence assaults are in regional NSW’, said Peachey. ‘I’m a country boy and I know a statistic like that doesn’t make me proud, it makes me want to do something. In country NSW, playing footy is something all the boys want to do, so it makes sense that we use rugby league as a vehicle to educate men and spread the message that domestic violence will not be tolerated.’
Under the program, $3000 in sponsorship is provided to participating clubs. In return all players and officials must sign a code of conduct that penalises them for any domestic violence offences, attend a domestic violence education workshop and participate in a media campaign that promotes anti-violence messages.
In addition, a school-based workshop on teen relationships is delivered to Year 9 and 10 students with discussion about healthy and unhealthy behaviours and the identification of early warning signs. The workshop is a tool for helping young people navigate their way through their first young relationships.
Northern Treasurer Laurie Mercy said the players understand the club is serious and committed to enforcing the code of conduct. ‘Tonight’s workshop will really bring home to the boys the effects of domestic violence and why it’s up to us men to make a stand’, he said. ‘We’ve spoken about it as a club and a playing group and everyone understands the importance of the commitment we’re making.’
In 2012, approximately 1000 men signed the code of conduct with only nine breaches at season’s end. Over 1100 men have signed the code of conduct in 2013.
A Tackling Violence community service announcement featuring Northern United, the Magpies and the Newcastle Knights’ Tyrone Roberts will go to air on July 21.
‘At the end of the day, this campaign is asking Northern United to be role models to the kids in this area, to the boys coming through the grades’, said Peachey. ‘As a man, as a footy player, that’s one of the proudest things you can be’.