TWENTY thousand footballers will rise to the challenge of ending domestic violence thanks to an innovative partnership between RizeUp and Queensland Rugby League's Central Division.
RizeUp works with women's refuges across Queensland and northern NSW to provide material aid for mothers and children fleeing family violence.
The innovative organisation appeals for donations of household goods and gift vouchers from community members through its social media pages. Its volunteers collect the goods and use them to turn houses into homes for the families in crisis.
The new footy partnership involves senior and junior male and female Central Division QRL players across Warwick, Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Gladstone.
The project kicks off in style during the first weekend of June when Central District players will don jerseys carrying the charity's logo for the Queensland A-Grade carnival.
This will be followed by the RizeUp round - featuring the Sunshine Coast Falcons v Central Queensland Capras match - on the weekend of August 14.
On that weekend, members, fans and support crews from the Central Division's 98 senior clubs and 96 junior clubs will take the RizeUp pledge to end domestic violence and they will be urged to donate goods to help the charity continue its life-changing work.
In return RizeUp will help players understand the impacts of domestic violence by contributing to the division's healthy relationships program.
There are also plans to hold a RizeUp Cup competition in the Roma-St George region later this year.
Frontline workers believe intimate partner and family violence has claimed the lives of at least 24 Australian women since the start of the year.
On Sunday Karen Belej, was apparently killed. She was a Mildura anti-domestic violence campaigner and White Ribbon advocate.
With Australian police handling about 5000 family abuse matters a week and one in three Aussie women experiencing gendered violence, QRL's Central Division manager Glenn Ottaway said the partnership was a timely reminder that every section of society needed to take a stand against the epidemic.
"When we're talking about having to relocate families affected by domestic violence into towns where we play rugby league, we've got a ready-made workforce to help with setting up homes, building furniture or making donations," Mr Ottaway said.
"To be able to engage our players in practical action to help victims is such a rewarding and important role for them and the education that RizeUp can bring to our respectful relationships program is invaluable."
RizeUp director Nicolle Edwards said the partnership could also change the outlook of young footballers about gendered violence.
"This is an amazing opportunity to reach young men who are just starting their adult lives and make them aware of the domestic violence situation in Australia and how they can be help towards eradicating DV and assisting victims," Ms Edwards said.
To help RizeUp visit facebook.com/RizeUpAustralia.
For 24-hour domestic violence support in Queensland phone DVConnect on 1800 811 811, MensLine on 1800 600 636 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
Courtesy of Sherele Moody of Sunshine Coast Daily
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