A LONG-time family violence campaigner has applauded the Maryborough community for facing up to violence against women with the launch of a new initiative.
Former footballer and politician Phil Cleary was a guest speaker at the launch of the initiative on Tuesday - which aims to curb family violence in the community.
The initiative, led by the local rotary club, consists of a family violence strategy, SAFE, support, advice, facilitate and early intervention model and a campaign called #SayNO2familyviolence.
Mr Cleary, whose sister was killed in 1987 during a family violence incident, said it was positive to see a small community tackle the problem head on.
"Ultimately the impetus for change has to come from the local community," he said.
"A key issue is cultural change.
"We have to change the culture, we have to change the way people think about violence against women.
"We have to stop people making excuses for the violence against women.
"Stop allowing the courts making excuses and making light against violence against women.
"We need all the institutions within a community to teach young men that it is never acceptable and to deal with the kind of attitudes that sustain or enable the violence to continue."
Mr Cleary said he hoped the initiative sparked support from other organisations - in particular schools and sports clubs.
"If organisations take a stand and say violence against women is totally unacceptable - that will encourage men to take a stand against the violence they might see," he said.
"If a bloke down the football club is rough handling his girlfriend or wife then (his mates) should be taking a position on that.
"We have to give people the confidence to believe they should not turn a blind eye."
The initiative involves a number of community organisations including the police station, Goldfields Shire Council and Go Goldfields Alliance and Family Violence Action Group.
The local football club will wear white armbands on game days to promote the campaign's message.