White Ribbon Distances Itself From ‘Offensive’ Anti-Family Violence Jetski Parade In Sydney


White Ribbon Australia has said it’s not associated with plans to hold a parade of 50 jetskis on Sydney Harbour to campaign against domestic and family violence and will not be officially participating. But at this stage the NSW Government-organised event will still go ahead.

The idea was for jetskis to zoom around and form a ribbon shape with the white water on White Ribbon Day on Friday, but advocates and anti-violence groups were quick to identify the stunt as insensitive and “beyond offensive”.

But White Ribbon Australia director Allan Ball said on Wednesday it was not organised by White Ribbon and was coordinated by NSW Maritime which was inspired by a similar event organised for Brisbane.

“This is one of hundreds of events being held across the country to raise awareness and funds for our work in primary prevention, to end men’s violence before it begins — advocacy, education, training, workplace accreditation, school programs and supporting the development of community action plans to address men’s violence on a local level,” Ball said.

“It is not being organised by White Ribbon Australia.”

The NSW government voiced support of the jetskis on Monday and women’s safety minister Natalie Ward said a “strong statement” on national White Ribbon Day was necessary.

“The display on Sydney Harbour will spark important conversations which will help end the silence and stigma surrounding violence and harassment.”

Transport Minister David Elliott confirmed the Sydney Harbour ride would be run simultaneously with Maritime Safety Queensland’s Brisbane River.

“NSW Maritime, Surf Life Saving NSW, Marine Rescue NSW and the Port Authority of NSW will all be represented in the flotilla which will look like a white ribbon moving across the Harbour,” Elliot said.

But advocates argued there were better ways to raise awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence.

NSW Labor called it a “very convoluted way” of starting the conversation about such an important issue.

The opposition’s spokeswoman for the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault Jodie Harrison said the “government should redirect the money they are spending on water sports to an initiative which will create meaningful change for those affected by domestic violence in NSW”.

Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon said the kind of action needed to end men’s violence against women was not “jetskis or tokenistic displays of commitment”.

“Victim-survivors need access to safe housing, trauma-informed service responses, fully funded specialist services, and integrated workplace supports,” she said.

“If workplaces truly want to be part of the solution they should be accelerating their commitment to offer paid domestic violence leave, and they should be ensuring they have a supportive workplace culture that is trauma-informed.

“Time would be better spent advancing workplace gender equality than riding jetskis.”

But looks like the money will still be spent on the stunt.