Clarence Valley Magpies president Ben Campbell and coach Ricky Binge, NSW Minister for Community Services Linda Burney and Northern United coach Chris Binge and president Laurie Mercy.
Clarence Valley Magpies president Ben Campbell and coach Ricky Binge, NSW Minister for Community Services Linda Burney and Northern United coach Chris Binge and president Laurie Mercy.

Walking the talk on domestic violence

Northern United coach Chris Binge is hoping his club’s decision to sign up to the Tackling Domestic Violence program will make their standing in the community even stronger.

The Lismore-based Aboriginal rugby league club is one of two in the Group One competition, along with the Lower Clarence Magpies, that signed up for the initiative last Friday. Team members sign a code of conduct regarding on and off-field behaviour and become anti-domestic violence advocates, also wearing the program name on their uniforms.

The two sides last met in last year’s grand final, with the Magpies winning by one point, but they were both singing the same tune on Friday.

“I hope the club does us proud both on and off the field,” Chris said. “I hope we’re a great team and a great advocate for what this stands for: taking a stand against violence in the community against anybody.”

The Magpies were one of the clubs to sign up for the first year of the program in 2009 and coach Ricky Binge said they were happy the number of signatories had grown to 16 this season.

“This domestic violence program created awareness in the whole lower Clarence area, not just the rugby league community,” Ricky said. “It helped provide harmony and camaraderie and played a major role in our success.

“The DV program allowed players to develop discipline in their personal lives and that reflected on the field; our sin-binning was down 80% on the previous year and not one player was sent off.

“The domestic violence program more than achieved the desired result.”

NSW Community Services Minister Linda Burney said she was passionate about addressing domestic violence.

“What this program is fundamentally about is keeping our homes safe, places of love and security for children and that can’t happen if there is violence in the home,” Ms Burney said. “This program started last year on a wing and a prayer and I’m thrilled Northern United is joining this year.

“Last year the message was about domestic violence this year the focus is on violence and grog.

“We want to draw attention to the problems of over-indulgence and what some of the drivers/triggers of domestic violence are.

“This is about community; not being told never to do stuff but about the power and importance of Aboriginal leaders in our community. The players have done a brave thing, signing up to this and now they’re going to walk the talk.

“That’s a very powerful exercise at a local community level.”

Page MP Janelle Saffin said the message about not tolerating domestic violence was all the more powerful coming from the community role models in both rugby league clubs.

“The players are all heroes to their local community, so when you go out there with the message about tackling domestic violence it will have a huge impact and shows the leadership you have,” Ms Saffin said.


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