Marc Pittonet can’t overstate the importance of the Carlton Respects program.

FIGHTING for change. 

Carlton ruckman Marc Pittonet visited ABC Breakfast on Thursday morning to discuss the Club’s community initiative Carlton Respects and the importance of the program. 

While the program has been running for eight years, it seems more important than ever in 2024, with violence against women making headlines for all the wrong reasons. 

Pittonet – a staunch advocate for women’s rights and the Carlton Respects program – explained that promoting gender equality goes a long way in teaching respectful behaviours towards others.

“Our Carlton Respects program is our community initiative to promote gender equality for the prevention of violence against women and we really see it as a way of addressing it at the grassroots,” Pittonet explained.

“All the research shows that the ability to build [positive] relationships at an early time has a big impact later on.”

Carlton does this through a digital learning platform called ‘Road to Respect’, aimed at primary-school-aged children, in an attempt to reduce inequality and understand negative behaviours. 

Visiting schools to help implement this program, both AFL and AFLW players assist students in learning these values and use their platforms to promote positive and healthy relationships. 

Marc Pittonet speaks on ABC News Breakfast about the Carlton Respects Program.

“We have our school program ‘Road to Respect’ which is a digital resource we’ve developed with industry experts,” he said. 

“Myself and other AFL and AFLW players are involved in the program to give that role model and really show what those relationships look like.”

Pittonet finds that primary school students are extremely open-minded when it comes to these visits, and most find the courage to ask questions that they’re not sure about. 

With this, the 27-year-old believes that young people are able to learn and take in this information if it is offered to them, wanting to build a better environment for women in the future. 

To find out more, visit the Carlton Respects website. 

“They’re incredibly receptive, they understand what you think would be common sense but also understand ‘I wouldn’t have known that was something that wasn’t quite right’,” he said.

“Fortunately, with the position we’re in with football, a lot of them want to be like us, we can model that really well.”

With violence against women a prominent talking point in Australia at the moment, Pittonet hopes that more schools can take up the Club’s learning platform, which aims to stop inequality before it starts. 

For Pittonet himself, his motivation is to see a world where gender inequality doesn’t exist and hopes to raise a family in a place where everyone is accepted for who they are.

“With the issue we’ve got at the moment, as we all know, the only acceptable number is zero so all the work that’s been happening and the attention is integral,” he said.

“The way I see it is being able to give back, play my role and try to have women in my own life have a better environment in the future and any future kids.”

If you, a child, or another person is in immediate danger, call 000. For sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service call 1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732 for 24/7 phone and online services.