White Ribbon Breakfast 2016 White Ribbon Breakfast 2016

White Ribbon Breakfast 2016

22 November 2016 | Domestic Violence

For the second consecutive year, Barry.Nilsson. has sponsored a table at the White Ribbon Breakfast for the Legal Profession held last Thursday at City Hall in Brisbane.  This event, being held for the fourth time, is held in support of the abolition of domestic violence.  I was privileged to have attended and was very impressed to see the number of attendees swelling beyond 750 in support of an issue that is a blight on our society. 

I have previously made my views known that I believe it is incumbent on us all, not just as members of the legal profession, judiciary, police or parliament but as human beings and members of the same society to all play a part in eradicating domestic violence.  At the very least we should not turn a blind eye and ensure that this issue is kept front of mind so as to bring about the societal change in attitude that epitomises the view, Domestic Violence: NOT NOW, NOT EVER!

The excellent speakers presented us with confronting facts and statistics as to how virulent and indiscriminatory of age, class, religion, social background, ethnicity or IQ domestic violence is.  However, I personally took great comfort in the words of His Honour, Magistrate Strofield of the Trial Specialist Domestic Violence Court at Southport, who spoke of change, evident to him, in the manner in which police respond to issues of domestic violence and the frank openness with which this issue is now tackled in mainstream discussions, His Honour noting that long gone are the hushed whispers between neighbours, reluctant to interfere in another’s family affairs, being a reflection of attitudes in bygone years.

His Honour also spoke of an increase in the number of applications for Protection Orders seen in the Southport registry of the Magistrates Court and challenged us to think of this not in terms of those numbers evidencing matters worsening, but quite the contrary, as evidence of matters improving.  An improvement in the understanding of the those most in need of the types of behaviour constituting domestic violence and an improvement in the confidence shown by those most in need in the police and the courts to provide help to those in need with expediency and with genuine concern.

I also applaud the address given by Tara Moss, which I personally found both confronting and inspiring.  The message I took from Tara’s excellent address was that we are all still conditioned from a young age to view men and women differently.  Paraphrasing one of the examples given by Tara, the definition of ‘boss’ in the English Oxford Dictionary is:




1. A person who is in charge of a worker or organization:
‘her boss offered her promotion’
1.1 A person in control of a group or situation:
‘does he see you as a partner, or is he already the boss?’ ”

Compare this with the definition of ‘bossy’ in the same reference:




Fond of giving people orders; domineering:
‘don’t be so bossy!’
‘a bossy, meddling woman’ ”

It was quite confronting to think that a reference manual such as a dictionary, in my mind such an impartial text, reinforces this stereotype thereby contributing to the conditioning we are all subjected to.  Namely, that men and women are different and should be characterised differently when exhibiting the same behaviours as might give rise to a man being called a ‘boss’ or a woman being labelled ‘bossy’.

So, I leave you with this thought.  I firmly believe that the changes in society’s attitude to the issue of domestic violence will take hold more firmly with each generation; with our children.  So, in helping to teach children that domestic violence in any form, in any family relationship, in any household is unacceptable, let’s also try and reframe the stereotypes dividing men and women such that we are all on a level playing field.

Kirstie Colls

Kirstie Colls

Special Counsel