White Ribbon message spread

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JACK CONROY

Inmates at the Otago Corrections Facility in Milburn have received advice and a plea to change their ways from a group of bikers called the White Ribbon riders.

Made up of motorbike enthusiasts from around the country, the riders tour the South Island once a year.

They turned up at the prison last week to spread the message of an organisation that works to stop domestic and family violence.

Six-year veteran of the group Tiki O’Brien said “each of us have our reasons why this is important to us. We want to spread a message of love and aroha.”

Some of the riders stood up to speak in front of a gathering of inmates.

Keith Turner, known as “Shrek”, told of how he turned his life around after years of domestic violence against previous partners.

Mr Turner eventually sought the help of a therapist, who helped him identify ways to take ownership of his actions and change them.

But he did not recognise the full extent of his actions until long after, when history began to repeat itself for his eldest daughters, who witnessed his violence against their mother.

“They ended up with men who were just like me. It didn’t stop there either.. my granddaughter ended up the same way.”

That was what helped him make the decision to commit to an organisation that would help men break the cycle of violence against their loved ones.

One inmate was inspired to stand up and speak about his own past.

He said that violence against his partner had caused her to leave him and take away his daughter. They had moved to Australia.

“It ruined my life and hurt other people. And the reputation stays with you forever. I told my mother I’d never hit a woman again.”

During the visit, a group of inmates presented the riders with the results from months of hard work on a set of paintings they had submitted to the Dunedin Art Show earlier this month.

Together, they raised almost $2500 for the White Ribbon organisation.

One of the inmates presented a large cheque to the riders, and said it was “a privilege doing this for you guys. Everyone was all for it. It’s a real honour.”