The Western Bulldogs relationship with White Ribbon began with the Club’s men’s health program, Sons of the West, in 2014 and has now evolved into a nationally televised White Ribbon ‘game’ on Saturday night against Geelong.
A white ribbon will adorn the Bulldogs’ Guernseys and the game ball, alongside the number 52, to recognise the number of women that are killed in Australia annually as a result of domestic violence.
‘It’s hard for all of us to process what actually happens from a domestic violence viewpoint because most of us have loving and brilliant relationships with the women in our lives,” Luke Beveridge told assembled media at VU Whitten Oval ahead of the weekend’s game.
“But we’ve made a choice as a Club to not bury our head in the stand up and [to] speak out for women who’ve been in these situations.”
Simone O’Brien, a White Ribbon ambassador and domestic violence victim, has spent time with the Club staff, players and coaches over the past week, sharing her stories of hardship along with determination to raise awareness for the cause.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to meet an incredibly courageous lady in Simone O’Brien who is an ambassador for White Ribbon and has had the courage to put herself out there as a symbol of, yes sadness, but a symbol of inspiration," he said.
“She’s had an effect on us, and we look forward to spending the evening with her and her husband Trevor and her three children, Jaslin, Gabby and young Zac is going to run out with us.”
Appearing on AFL 360, Matthew Boyd, the father of two young girls said that while second versus fourth is always going to be a big game, the White Ribbon connection creates a special significance.
“[It’] a massive game but it has a bit more meaning because we are playing the White Ribbon game in conjunction with the White Ribbon foundation, who obviously do a great deal of work in trying to raise awareness for domestic violence.”
“[The number 52] is a pretty horrific stat and whatever we can do within the industry to raise some awareness for that and try and get that number to zero.
“I mean that’s the only acceptable number, isn’t it?”
Beveridge said that the weekend provides an opportunity for each of us as Australians to stand up, speak out and make a difference.
“I urge everyone to take a little bit of ownership in something that doesn’t directly affect you but understand you can contribute to a cause that is as significantly important as most causes in Australia.”
The Club will take the opportunity both in-stadium and via Channel Seven’s Saturday night broadcast to raise awareness for the White Ribbon cause, while fans attending the game will be able to make donations to White Ribbon volunteers outside the stadium.
Those at home will also be able to contribute to the fundraising effort, with a social media fundraising initiative to be announced via Twitter on the night.