A CLARENCE Valley sports team has been handed the chance to lead the nation in a program aimed at turning around the escalating problem of domestic violence.
The Lower Clarence Magpies rugby league team yesterday signed up as one of only five teams in the country to a pilot program titled Tackling Violence.
Australian Rugby League chief executive officer and former Grafton resident, Geoff Carr, said the Magpies had been selected for the program because of the good record they had achieved in recent years through successful community relationship programs.
“We hope this new program, Tackling Violence, will be introduced throughout NSW and Queensland, so it's essential that the pilot programs work,” he said.
“I have faith in the Lower Clarence organisation and that's why we asked them to be part of the pilot group.”
Minister for Community Services, Linda Burney, contacted the NSWRL when she was told about the success of a similar program that has been running in Normanton, Queensland, for the past few years.
The Normanton Stingers league side was selected as the face of an education program aimed at reducing spiralling domestic violence problems in the area.
In the first year alone the incidences of domestic violence in the Normanton area dropped by 55 per cent.
“By signing up to Tackling Violence, Lower Clarence players will be committing to acting as community role models,” Ms Burney said.
“They have agreed to a code of conduct with penalties for any player who commits violence against a woman or child.
“We also know that domestic violence is the most reported crime in NSW and can affect anyone. However, Aboriginal women are four times more likely to be victims of domestic violence than non-Aboriginal women and we want to make sure the anti-violence message is heard in Aboriginal communities.”
Magpies captain Dallas Waters said his players were 100 per cent behind the campaign.
“Domestic violence is a major issue in our community and our players want to do something about it,” Waters said.
“It's time that we faced up to it. Our women should not have to lie and say they've been walking into doors.”
Ms Burney, an avid league fan, said further funding would be made available to develop a local TV and radio advertising campaign featuring the Magpies.
Mudgin-Gal Aboriginal Women's Corporation, a Tackling Violence partner, will work with local communities to provide a range of support services, particularly to women and girls.
“I don't want to go to another footy game and see a young woman with a love bite on her neck and a black eye watching her partner play,” Ms Burney said.
Former champion rugby league player Larry Corowa has been appointed the co-ordinator of the Tackling Violence program and he'll be in regular contact with the Magpies.
“I feel privileged to be part of this program and I'll be doing my best to make sure it is a success,” Corowa said.
“In the next few weeks I'll be speaking with all the players, outlining their responsibilities and setting the goals that we would like to see achieved.”
The other teams selected for the first year pilot program are Dubbo Macquarie and Dubbo CYMs, Windsor and Tingha.