Although the sight of men in business suits walking in women’s high heels turned a few heads across Australia’s major cities on 1 September, their public display was to support the very serious issue behind the national fundraising event ‘Walk A Mile in Their Shoes 2017’.
Seeking to bring attention to the tragedy that is violence against women, The Harcourts Foundation organised over 800 Harcourts staff, family, friends and supporters and raised $100,000 to support White Ribbon’s “Breaking the Silence” prevention initiatives in primary and secondary schools.
“By forging partnerships such as Walk A Mile in Their Shoes with Harcourts and The Harcourts Foundation, we strengthen the community and, in turn, raise awareness to stop violence before it happens,” said White Ribbon CEO Libby Davies.
“The issue of men’s violence against women is challenging for many, and we are grateful to see the men of Harcourts taking a stand and changing ingrained attitudes.”
Queensland CEO Brendan Whipps acknowledged that it might seem trivial to wear women’s high heels and walk as a group in public, but the spectacle gets the conversation going.
“Our only aim is to get people talking about the issue of violence against women and that it is completely unacceptable,” he said. “The alarming statistics tell us that it is highly likely that domestic violence will touch our work colleagues, our sisters, our daughters, our mothers and our friends. People need to know that they can make a difference; bringing an end to men’s violence against women will take a whole of community approach.”
In front of almost 100Harcourts supporters and those that gathered along the busy Brisbane Southbank promenade, Mr Whipps presented White Ribbon Ambassador and Channel 10 News presenter Lachlan Kennedy with a cheque for $100,000, symbolic of the collective funds raised that day at eight locations. (photo above)
“While we understand that violence affects both women and men, this event is focused on funding White Ribbon’s tremendous work to strengthen a culture of respect and equality at all levels of the school community — through curriculum, role modelling from staff, policies and procedures, domestic violence education programs and strengthened family and community partnerships.”
Harcourts Victoria CEO Sadhana Smiles backed the concept of Walk a Mile, holding the first walk in 2013. Since then it has expanded to a national audience across the Australian real estate franchise network of 430 offices.
Joining Ms Smiles at the Melbourne walk was White Ribbon Advocate Simone O’Brien. (photo above)
In Sydney’s west, the Campbelltown Walk a Mile event also held the distinction of hosting the nation’s top fundraising team from Harcourts The Property People. Headed by business owners Garth and Laura Makowski, the team has raised, to date, over $20,000, surpassing their record from the 2016 event. (photo below)
“As a business, we feel very strongly about supporting important causes,” said Mr Makowski. “Domestic violence is a big issue in Campbelltown as it is everywhere.
“Breaking the Silence teaches school children about domestic violence to try and stop the problem before it begins.
"To be able to host this event in NSW in our home town, our local community where we work every day and invest so much of our time is an honour and a privilege. To have all the Harcourts men and women from around NSW make the effort to come together for this initiative is very impressive and speaks volumes for the quality of people in our group.
"Domestic violence is an ugly subject and like all ugly subjects people tend to brush it to the side and choose to ignore discussion around it. Harcourts have provided us with an opportunity to bring this subject to the surface in a different way.
"On our march we witnessed several ladies sitting watching us, as we walked past I noticed they were crying. Bringing this issue to the surface has an impact on people, on communities, if you want to change anything, you cannot do it without action and discussion and that’s exactly what Walk A Mile is all about. If putting on a pair of women’s heels helps make one bit of difference, then it’s all worth it.”
The second most money raised was by the Harcourts Narre Warren South, in Victoria. Led by business owner Brad Ryan, the team raised $2,755 with top office fundraisers Paul May ($550) and Jess Whitehead $571).
“We have always been committed from day one to White Ribbon and will continue to do so,” said Mr Ryan. “The schools project gives us hope that our future generations will stop the violence.
“The funds raised through our public awareness is amazing, but I think it’s the team’s ability as one to bring it to so many of our landlords, tenants, sellers, buyers and tradespeople that will help our generation bring an end to the violence as well in support of our children.”
He went on to explain that real estate agents and property managers spend their time in the homes of clients every day, and noted that domestic violence is, unfortunately, something they are all too familiar with.
“It is an issue that that surrounds us in our industry and females in the community need to see men step up and make a public stance that it is not ok to be violent against a woman. At Harcourts we are different and we want to be the ones who make a difference.”
Walk A Mile in Their Shoes is in its 5th year and has collectively raised over $395,000 for White Ribbon. The Harcourts Foundation is unique in that it is volunteer run, with all costs borne by Harcourts, meaning that 100% of all money raised goes directly to recipients.
Since 2013, funds have helped Breaking the Silence expand into a national program, across regions in 70 schools, impacting 2800 teachers and 39,300 students. An additional 186 schools are registered for the 2017 program, with induction to be supported by funds raised in this year’s event.
Walk a Mile 2017 Locations
- Brisbane, Queensland with White Ribbon Ambassador Channel 10 News presenter Lachlan Kennedy
- Campbelltown, New South Wales with White Ribbon Ambassador Tibor Mokany
- Hobart, Tasmania with White Ribbon Ambassador former MP David O’Byrne
- Launceston, Tasmania with White Ribbon Ambassador Mayor of Launceston Albert Van Zetten
- Melbourne, Victoria with White Ribbon Advocate Simone O’Brien and White Ribbon Executive Manager and Ambassador Peterson Opjo
- Perth, Western Australia with White Ribbon Ambassador City of Perth Councillor Jim Adamos
- South Australia with White Ribbon Ambassador 2016 Young Australian of the Year Arman Abrahimzadeh
- Townsville, Queensland with White Ribbon Ambassador Chiu-Hing Chan (chairman, White Ribbon Queensland Committee National Board of Directors) and Jim Fitzgerald (Men’s Program Worker for NQ Domestic Violence Resource Services)
If you are experiencing violence or suspect someone else is, please contact 1800 RESPECT for advice and support. In an emergency, call the police on 000.