Men responsible for ending domestic violence: White Ribbon ambassador Kevin Saul

MAKING A CHANGE: Daniel Coughlin, Harley Lincoln, Kevin Saul, Thomas Maples, Joe Edwards and Kyle Elwood from the Gagamin Men's Group cleaning up Alcheringa Street last year. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
MAKING A CHANGE: Daniel Coughlin, Harley Lincoln, Kevin Saul, Thomas Maples, Joe Edwards and Kyle Elwood from the Gagamin Men's Group cleaning up Alcheringa Street last year. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Domestic violence can end if men take action to change themselves, says White Ribbon ambassador Kevin Saul.

New data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on personal safety found one in six women had experienced partner violence, while one in four said they had experienced emotional abuse by a partner.

The report also found one in ten men and one in eight women had witnessed violence towards their mother by a partner before the age of 15.

However, Mr Saul said Dubbo’s Gagamin Aboriginal Men’s Group was working hard to make a change.

The group, which formed about 12 months ago, is mostly comprised of men who have been domestic violence perpetrators.

“They’re actually working as a group, as a collective, to put back into society after they’ve done things wrong,” Mr Saul said. 

“They volunteer, they do clean ups. In the 12 months it’s been operating they’ve probably moved 30 tonnes of rubbish by hand.”

Mr Saul said the group worked year-round cooking barbecues, cleaning up backyards and giving back. While they worked, they also talked, he said.

“Out of the 30-odd men who have been in the group, not one of them has gone back to jail in 12 months. We’re talking about men who have been some of the highest-risk offenders in Dubbo and Western NSW in the past ten years and not one of them has gone back to jail,” Mr Saul said.

The success of the group was on the men’s shoulders, he said. The men were not forced to be there by anyone, they simply wanted to “get things straight”, he said.

While the statistics say one in six women had experienced domestic violence. The White Ribbon ambassador said he believed the figure would be much higher. Shame often stopped women from speaking out and seeking help, Mr Saul said. 

However, to stop the prevalence of domestic and family violence, men needed to take action, he said.

“If men don't stop men from perpetrating violence against women it’ll never stop happening. It’s simple as that,” he said.

“If you have breast cancer do you go to an ear nose and throat specialist? No, you go to a cancer specialist. If we want to talk about violence against women perpetrated by men, then we need to go to the men and stop them from doing it.

“I’m not saying the other stuff is not important, I’m not saying that we don’t have to have things in place for all that, but White Ribbon, this cause and what we’re talking about now is violence against women and children, committed by men. And that needs to be stopped by men.”