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Luke Ablett wants to combat the culture of violence.

PREMIERSHIP Swan and former Fitzeroy player Luke Ablett traded footballing glory to fight violence in Vanuatu — now he is calling on others to experience the rewards of volunteering.

Ablett, 32, is also hoping for a future in other international trouble spots in his quest to become a humanitarian worker, a far cry from his days as an AFL footballer.

But first he has plenty to achieve in Melbourne, taking some of the experiences he gained in the South Pacific to address gender-based violence in his home city.

In August Ablett returned from a year in Port Vila with Australian Volunteers for International Development, supported by Australian Red Cross, and became heavily involved in trying to reverse a culture of violence among young men.

Now backing White Ribbon Day, Step Back and Think and other projects in Melbourne, Ablett used Volunteers Day this week to underline the importance non-paid experiences can have in shaping a future.

“I was working with the AFL at the time and was clearly just ready for a change after doing footy for a long time, since I was 16 years old,” Ablett said.

“Volunteering is a really grounding experience. It’s a great way to see the world, try to do some good and improve yourself.”
Ablett will also continue pushing to end gender-based violence in Australia, hoping his background in the AFL will help to connect with men who most need to heed the message.

“This is not about man-bashing ... but there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we create men and how we expect men to behave,” Ablett said.

“That is the field I want to move into and stay involved in.

“As a footy player, someone who has come from a blokey culture, but still being able to care about other people and talk about what it means to be a man and have a relationship with your girlfriend."

Herald Sun 12th December 2014

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