College captain speech on consent and respect for women

March 24, 2021

On March 24, 2021 College Captain Darcy Williams presented the following speech to all Year 11 and Year 12 students in the College Chapel.

In a climate where respect for women and issues around consent are dominating the nation’s headlines, Darcy’s words implored his peers to set new standards and to grow into men who, at all times, behave in the right way and are courageous enough to call out those who don’t.

Darcy Williams Speech on Consent and Women’s Safety

“Grace Tame, this year’s Australian of the year, at 15, was groomed and raped by her 58-year-old teacher. Britany Higgins, former Liberal staffer, was allegedly raped in Parliament House. The place that was built on the foundation of law and justice for all. Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who was walking home from a friend’s house in a well-lit area at night. Last week her life was taken, and her body was found.”

Darcy Williams delivers his speech to all Year 11 and 12 students.

These were the first few sentences of Mason Black’s speech to Brisbane Boy’s College last week which went viral for its sincerity and important takeaway messages. For an all-boys school like Brisbane Boy’s College and St Pat’s, it is imperative that we continue the discussion about consent, violence and sexual assault towards women and respect for women.

For we are the ones, more often than not, instigating the problem.

We are the ones being portrayed in the media as arrogant and rude. As savage. As a group of boys with a mob mentality, and no doubt there is some truth in this. I know this is not all boys or men, but all boys and men have a role in making society safer for women.

This is all something that the Student Council had already been discussing and hoping to correct. We want to change this narrative now.

So, this speech is different. It is upsetting. It is challenging. It is important. It is something that affects a lot more of you then you may think.

One in five women, before the age of 16, experience some sort of sexual abuse. And 97% of sexual offenses are from men.

In Ballarat alone, family violence has increased by over 40% during 2020 with COVID-19 and a further 1714 women were affected by family incidents. That is over four women a day, who are mistreated here in Ballarat. Think about that.

More than likely, some of you here today may already be affected by this. More than likely, some of your Mums, sister and friends are being harmed. Which also means, that some of us here today are creating the problem.

Boys, this needs to change. What we take for granted is something that women have had to deal with their whole lives.

It is as simple as walking to the car. Most men will reach for their keys once they get to the car, however women tend to have their keys ready before they even get there. Now whilst this may seem only minor to us in our eyes, it speaks volumes about the type of society we live in and the constant fear that women must deal with in their lives. The fear of suddenly being taken away to be sexually assaulted, raped or murdered.

For too long, Australia has overlooked this issue. For too long, we have overlooked this issue. For too long, women have had to deal with this and have been silenced. It is our responsibility. We need to be educated.

Boys, if a girl says no, that means no.

No ifs, buts, or maybes.

If a girl is drunk, she cannot really give consent.

If she has to be coerced, repeatedly asked, or pressured, she is not freely giving consent.

As young men, we have much to gain in how we feel about ourselves if we conduct ourselves honourably, let alone avoiding a criminal allegation of a sexual offence.

It is as clear as can be. We must listen and respect their decision.

The solution is only found if we start to change our behaviour today.

I hope all of you, have the courage and strength to stand up for what is right, no matter who the person is that is in the wrong.

Which by the way, doesn’t always have to be shaming them in the moment. You could just talk to them afterwards or to someone else.

Everyone in this room today, must be accountable for not just their own actions but also your mates. Everyone knows that not all men are the perpetrators of this issue, however we are all at the heart of it.

Allowing your mates to treat women disrespectfully makes you part of the problem. Who has seen that poster, “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” We all know it is true.

As a collective, we know we have to change how we talk to and about women.

Don’t use `simp’.

Don’t rate girls out of 10.

Don’t encourage that mob mentality.

Do step in if a woman seems uncomfortable. Do listen to women.

The Student Council will be doing their bit to further this discussion.

So, let us all play our role and change. Together, as one brotherhood, as one community. Let us rewrite our mistakes. Let us finally make women feel empowered, respected, and safe.

Ecka Dora.