Tongue leads crusade against domestic violence
The face of the NRL's stance against domestic violence, Raiders legend Alan Tongue, stood in front of eight senior representative players during the week and delivered a sobering message.
"One in three women have experienced domestic violence. I have three daughters and that statistic scares me," he told the likes of Corey Parker, James Maloney and Kiwi Ferns captain Serena Fiso.
It's why the NRL's announcement – in unveiling a series of additional resources towards eradicating domestic violence, on top of what they have done with Our Watch, White Ribbon and Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia – is so important.
City Origin skipper Wade Graham was among the eight who were listening to Tongue on Wednesday and was instantly alarmed by the statistics.
"I have three sisters so potentially one of them is at risk," Graham told NRL.com.
"At the end of the day it's not good enough as a society. Hopefully by making people more aware of how common this thing is, it will help find an end to it.
"It's certainly something that's not good enough as a whole and the more we can do to help and fix this situation the better."
Tongue has spearheaded previous NRL campaigns involving bowel cancer and helped the Wests Tigers in their pilot program involving social etiquette last year. Now with the NRL stepping up their 'Voice against Violence' his focus has shifted.
"We now have a really good vehicle – that vehicle being rugby league – in the way we can get across our junior players and junior and regional footy clubs to have this conversation and to raise awareness," Tongue said.
With the likes of Jillaroos veteran Ruan Sims, Fiji's Eloni Vunakece and Papua New Guinea's Stanton Albert joining Tongue at Rugby League Central, he believes the combined show of support will only help strengthen the cause amongst the international game.
"It's a really powerful statement and stance that everybody has come together to make. These people have different backgrounds, are from different cultures and are from different sides of Australia, New Zealand and Pasifika," Tongue said.
"They're saying, 'You know what? We're going to do our part in our area and our communities to say this isn't the culture we should have around violence against women'.
"Domestic violence doesn't discriminate. It doesn't matter whether you're rich or poor, or your black or white, or what god you believe in. It affects us all. It's happening far and wide and we now have a great way of engaging with our younger generations."
Along with a new website and commercial, there will also be a new grassroots program targeted at young males aged 16-18 that will be rolled out in 60 different communities over the next three years.
The program was initially tested at ACT's West Belconnen junior club as well as the Indigenous All Stars with positive results. The next stops for the initiative are Tamworth and Nelson Bay.
"There's basically two components to [the workshops]. The first thing is we actually use rugby league skills and activities which are relevant to rugby league to help raise awareness around domestic violence," Tongue said.
"We then come indoors and we do an interactive session with the guys around raising an awareness and understanding what it is and what are the forms of domestic violence and what's unacceptable.
"The feedback has been really good post those first workshops so far and we're always getting better I feel every time we deliver it.
"We are continually working with our partners to make sure our messaging is relevant and applicable to them as well as being remembered by the junior players."