Make a stand this White Ribbon Day


21 November 2019


This White Ribbon Day, Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is asking the public to “Challenge the Unspoken Rules” that boys and young men inherit from society.


The White Ribbon movement aims to actively engage the community, and particularly men, in the effort to stop violence towards women and children – and this year’s theme refers to the outdated ideas boys and men can have about what a man is, how he acts, and how he should express himself.


WDHB will this year mark White Ribbon Day on Monday 25 November with an information stand at Whanganui Hospital’s main entrance, with staff members handing out white ribbons, listening to people’s experiences of violence in their lives and providing advice on accessing support.


The information stand is being organised by WDHB’s Child Youth Mortality Review Committee regional co-ordinator Terry Sarten, who says participating staff will embrace the theme to Challenge the Unspoken Rules.


Mr Sarten says physical violence, as well as emotional and psychological abuse, does enormous damage to children and women and it has long term consequences.


“Men in our community can change that by challenging their mates, uncles, grandfathers, fathers and sons to act when they are aware of abusive behaviour,” he says. “They can play a crucial role in changing families, whānau, workplaces and communities.”


Mr Sarten says “challenging the unspoken rules” is another positive step toward embracing this kaupapa.


“Even if we don’t agree with them, these rules still exist silently in the background for far too many. Rules like: Be the Man, Toughen Up and Boys Don’t Cry reinforce unhelpful stereotypes about what it is to be a man.”


“We have the opportunity to use our voices as parents, caregivers and influencers to speak up over the unspoken. By saying out loud to our boys and young men that it’s ok for them to be who they are, we can encourage them to define themselves as men who have respectful relationships – which, in turn, protects our whole community.”


The annual community White Ribbon March will be held on Friday 22 November, starting at the corner of St Hill Street and Taupō Quay at 12 noon and proceeding up Victoria Avenue to Majestic Square. A number of WDHB staff will be involved in supporting this event as well.


In addition, in the lead up to White Ribbon day and to help support this year’s White Ribbon message, WDHB has also been promoting an informative series of weekly videos on its Facebook page.


The videos support this year’s White Ribbon theme of challenging the unspoken rules and can be viewed by searching #WDHBwhiteribbonseries.