Hunter River High School students take the White Ribbon pledge together

Hunter River High School students stood together as one last Friday and pledged to do their part to stamp out domestic violence.

With one voice, on November 30 the student body read out the White Ribbon oath: I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.

“We’ve been a recognised White Ribbon school for the past four years,” teacher Mark McLennan said. “Each year we do our part to promote White Ribbon. We sell ribbons on White Ribbon day, attend the White Ribbon breakfast in Newcastle and hold a White Ribbon assembly where we get the students to make the pledge.

“But we also have real conversations with students about White Ribbon and what it stands for. It has been remarkable seeing the difference being part of White Ribbon has made, especially in the kids.

“They feel like they can have a conversation about domestic violence. While it’s not something we can immediately fix, we can provide support for the them.”

Before running the White Ribbon assembly at the Heatherbrae school on Friday morning, Mr McLennan attended the breakfast in Newcastle with school captains Megan Snow and Dylan Eyb and vice captains Kane Chester and Joshua Kirkpatrick.

The annual event, organised by the Hunter White Ribbon Breakfast Committee, is attended by hundreds of people including school representatives, police, ambassadors, politicians and others from organisations that are fighting to stamp out domestic violence and provide support to the abused.

Port Stephens White Ribbon ambassador Roger Yeo was one of the speakers at the breakfast.

Mr Yeo, from Nelson Bay, became a White Ribbon ambassador after his daughter, Rachelle, was murdered in her Sydney home by a former partner on July 16, 2012. 

He describes the perpetration of violence against women by men as a “national human rights disaster”. 

“I want to change the world one White Ribbon at a time,” Mr Yeo said. “If I can persuade one guy to change his attitude or listen or stop and think about it, that’s a positive.”

Tomaree High School, which is also a White Ribbon school, held a barbecue breakfast and discussions about domestic violence with students on White Ribbon Day on November 23.

Teacher Joel Ross, who helped organise the school’s first White Ribbon event this year, said the aim of it was to empower students to speak out against violence and to prevent it in the future.

Where to get help: 1800 RESPECT 24 hour counselling line (1800 737 732), Lifeline: 13 11 14, Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277.

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