Help break the silence of abuse: White Ribbon Day – 25 November

Take a pledgeWhether you are a father, husband,  brother, uncle or grandad – we all have women in our lives that we love, and wouldn’t want to see subjected to violence. We all want our children to grow up in a happy, healthy environment and to go on to have happy, healthy relationships.

That’s why when I was asked to be CM Health’s ambassador for White Ribbon Day, I was more than happy to support this great cause.

So how did White Ribbon Day start?

In 1991, a group of Canadian men began a campaign to urge men to speak out against violence against women. The group adopted the wearing of a white ribbon as a symbol of men’s opposition to men’s violence against women. That first effort achieved the distribution of 100,000 white ribbons to men across Canada, and promoted widespread community discussion about violence in personal relationships.

Eight years later (1999) the United Nations officially recognised 25 November as the International Day for the elimination of violence towards women.  

When looking at the New Zealand statistics on family violence, they are quite sobering with New Zealand ranking the third highest in the OECD for its child deaths as a direct result of family violence. Police are called to around 200 domestic violence situations a day – that’s one every seven minutes and in

Counties Manukau we have the highest rates of shaken baby syndrome in the country. The economic cost of domestic violence across the country is as high as $8 billion per year.

As for the impact on our health system it’s not surprising that victims of abuse and neglect use health services at a significantly higher rate than those who are not.  And the health effects which include depression, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress can be severe and long term – not just for the victims but for their families. Women who are abused are also more likely to smoke or abuse alcohol.

So far this year there have been over 323 reports of partner abuse, being reported to CM Health’s Violence Intervention Programme (VIP). Unfortunately that’s just the tip of the iceberg with a large number of cases not reported to police or social services.  As health harm from abuse is cumulative early intervention is instrumental for improving physical and mental health outcomes.

While it will take a coordinated and long term approach to eliminate family violence, including the abuse of children, you can show your support by getting behind CM Health’s White Ribbon Day on Friday 28 November. By wearing a black tee-shirt and a white ribbon– it says loud and clear that you will never condone, take part in or remain silent about domestic abuse against women.

There are some great activities planned for the day, which include a motorcycle ride around Middlemore Hospital and a special appearance from MKR corporate dads Aaron and Josh.

We are also asking all of the men out there to bake some cupcakes in support of the women in your life.   If you’re not a baker – ask your other half for some help. These cupcakes will be sold on the day with proceeds going to Odyssey House.

Keep your eyes out for details in the Daily Dose. If you would like to participate, or can help out on the day contact Sheila Fowlie on extension 7638.

If you would like to learn more about White Ribbon Day in NZ please visit the official website at

Thanks for your support


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Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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