Domestic violence campaigners and community sector leaders came out today in strong support for Premier Mike Baird's weekend call for the Roosters to take immediate action to suspend Shaun Kenny-Dowall whilst NSW Police investigate serious allegations of domestic violence against him.
The Chief Executive Officers of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (RDVSA), Domestic Violence NSW (DVNSW) and the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) praised Premier Baird for demonstrating leadership on the issue and called on NRL chiefs and the Sydney Roosters to do the same.
"If we are going to be serious about ending domestic violence we need consistently strong leadership on this issue from government, business, civil society and our communities. By choosing not to stand down Kenny-Dowall, the Sydney Roosters and the NRL have failed that leadership test", said Moo Baulch, CEO of DVNSW.
"The Premier made absolutely the right call when he said that the NRL and Roosters had a responsibility to send a strong message condemning violence against women. Players facing domestic violence charges should be stood down until legal processes are concluded. NRL representatives were quoted on Sunday as saying that there are 'two sides to every story' but when it comes to allegations of domestic violence made against a person in the public eye including actual bodily harm, the consequence of not taking action is a message of disrespect to survivors of violence everywhere. There is no excuse for domestic violence, ever."
Karen Willis, EO of RDVSA commented, "Influential figures, particularly sporting stars, have a higher level of responsibility as role models and should be held to account for their actions."
"The League has a proud body of work in its Voices against Violence Campaign. Not acting when such serious charges have been laid is not in keeping with its stated stand on respectful relationships."
"The NRL and the Sydney Roosters have the opportunity here to lead and be part of a consistent message condemning all violence against women and supporting survivors. Their comments on the weekend are simply not in line with the leadership position they have worked so hard to take. If the player does not understand the seriousness of the charges and does not have the respect for the game and his team mates to simply stand aside the Roosters should immediately move to stand him down until the charges and criminal justice process is completed."
NSW Council of Social Service Acting CEO John Mikelsons added: "The NRL says their stand against domestic violence is unambiguous, but it seems like the reality is very different."
"When sporting teams and codes take a strong stand against players facing charges of assault and other crimes, and then fail to take the same measures against a player charged with violence against their partner, it calls into question how seriously they take the domestic and family violence emergency that we are facing in 2015."