Top sporting bodies sign leadership pledge to stop violence against women

Top sporting bodies sign leadership pledge to stop violence against women


Australia’s most prominent sporting bodies have today renewed their commitment to preventing violence against women, signing a leadership statement pledging to use their collective influence to progress gender equality.

The AFL, NRL, Rugby Australia, Netball Australia and Football Federation Australia are the sporting bodies to sign the commitment to work together with Our Watch, a national organisation working to stop violence against women and their children before it starts.

Our Watch chief executive Patty Kinnersly praised the sporting bodies for taking the step.

“Sports leaders set the tone, which is why it is so important they continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to disrespect and violence against women,” Ms Kinnersly said.  

“I applaud the AFL, NRL, Rugby Australia, FFA, and Netball Australia for taking this important step today. Only together will we be able to turn the dial towards achieving gender equality so we can work towards an Australia that is free from violence against women and their children.”  

To assist the national sporting organisation to promote gender equality within their organisation, Our Watch has launched a new website, called Equality and Respect in Sport. The renewed pledge from the five sporting organisations builds on an initial joint leadership statement and partnership formed in 2016 with the AFL, NRL, Netball Australia and Rugby Australia. FFA joined the commitment in 2018.

Marne Fechner, CEO of Netball Australia, said her sport had an opportunity to harness its influence to further educate and change attitudes around violence.

 “Netball Australia has had a long-standing vision of empowering women and girls to shine, while enriching and connecting communities and, as the number one participation sport for women and girls in Australia, we have an enormous opportunity to harness the sport’s reach to further educate and change attitudes around violence,” Fechner said. 

“Netball is committed to working alongside Our Watch to ensure that women and girls around Australia know they should expect respect, and that violence against women is not okay in any circumstance.”  


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NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said NRL players and leaders had a responsibility to drive social change on the issue.

“Our players are role models for many young Australians, and we have a responsibility to send a strong message to the community about the importance of respect for women,’’ Abdo said. 

“This is an important leadership statement. There is no place in our community for disrespect or violence against women. As a game, we will do all we can to have a positive influence in this area. 

“We are proud of the work we do on and off the field. Whether it be our commitment to the NRLW and Women’s State of Origin in a COVID-19 impacted year or our work in community with our Voice Against Violence and In League In Harmony programs which promote and educate respect for women and social cohesion. There’s always more that can be done, and this statement is another positive step.”  

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said the sporting code is committed to improving its capacity to be inclusive, and instill respectful behaviour.

“Everyone is welcome in our game and we will continue to work towards ensuring everyone feels included and safe at all levels of Australian Football,” Mr McLachlan said.  

“We know the power of sport in driving change and the AFL is proud to partner with Our Watch in promoting attitudes and instilling behaviours that are respectful to and supportive of women.”  

FFA CEO James Johnson said the organisation was focused on measures like getting more women on boards and into senior leadership roles.

“We are a global leader in women’s football and are proud of our multicultural origins, its rich history, and diverse and growing football community. Our XI Principles for the future of Australian football demonstrate our commitment to fostering an environment that is safe and inclusive, so our participants feel welcomed and valued,” Johnson said. 

“Fair representation of women on boards, committees and in senior administrative roles; the establishment of strong requirements for gender parity and diversity across the game; and enhancing programs to promote a culturally diverse and inclusive game are various measures contemplated by FFA.  

“Principle X in particular emphasises our intention to anchor women’s football in the continued growth of Australian football, particularly after being granted hosting rights to FIFA’s Women’s World Cup 2023, and to turn Australia into the centre of women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region.”  

And Rugby Australia interim Chief Executive Rob Clarke said the sport’s commitment to respect was ongoing.

“Rugby Australia is steadfast in its ongoing commitment to promoting gender equality and respectful relationships in our broader community,” Clarke said.

“Respect is one of the core values that underpins Rugby in this country, and it should be the same off the field, as it is on the field. We are proud to stand alongside the AFL, NRL, FFA and Netball Australia and commit to furthering this work into the future while also calling on the sporting community to stand with us against violence against women as well as gender inequality.”  

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.


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