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Sport codes kick off commitment to tackle domestic violence

WHETHER it's on the sporting field or in the changing rooms, footy and netball players, their coaches and support crews and their fans will be kicking major goals towards ending domestic violence.

The NRL, AFL, Netball Australia and the Australian Rugby Union on Friday signed a leadership statement aligning themselves with Our Watch to end violence against women and children.

The agreement means the four codes will take "high impact and systematic" measures including ensuring their internal and external policies encouraging gender equality and respect on and off the field.

Our Watch CEO Mary Barry said the sporting community had a "powerful" role to play in reducing domestic and family abuse.

"The sporting community has a huge opportunity to play an important role in preventing violence against women and their children," Ms Barry said.

"Sporting codes, clubs and organisations bring together large numbers of people of all ages and backgrounds and are a ready-made environment to promote women's participation and opportunities to eliminate gender-based discrimination and violence-supportive attitudes."

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg urged fans of the league to be a "voice against violence".

"The NRL will continue to use its voice to ensure that as a code and as communities, we stand up, speak out and take action against domestic violence of any kind," Mr Greenberg said.

"Our players, coaches and ambassadors will continue to deliver our voice against violence message, supported by Our Watch, throughout communities and we are confident that together, we can make a positive change and end domestic violence."   

Netball Australia CEO Kate Palmer said sporting heroes could change the way people approached gendered violence.

"Sport is a big part of our culture and our athletes are heroes to many Australians," Ms Palmer said.

"It is therefore crucial that athletes model the kind of fair and respectful behaviour needed to ensure we have an Australia free from disrespect and violence against women."

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said football and netball had a major influence on society because of their massive fan bases.

"It is important that sport, which has such a big influence on our society, uses this influence to advocate for respect, gender equality, inclusion and non-violence on and off the field," Mr McLachlan said.

ARU CEO Bill Pulver said players, coaches and other union staff as well union lovers needed to be pro-active and call out sexist actions.

"Whether on the field, in the office or at the pub, simple things like telling your mates or colleagues that sexist jokes are not funny can make a difference to the culture that currently trivialises violence against women," Mr Pulver said.

"The ARU stands beside the AFL, NRL and Netball Australia to call on the sporting community to take a stand against violence against women and gender inequality."

Our Watch is a national bi-partisan organisation committed to raising awareness and engaging the Australian community in preventing violence against women and their children before it starts.

*For 24-hour support phone Queensland's DVConnect on 1800 811 811 or MensLine on 1800 600 636, NSW's  Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 or the  national hotline 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).


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