Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month is an annual event held each May to raise community awareness of the social and personal impacts of domestic and family violence and the support available to those affected.
Members of the Sunshine Coast community gathered at Alexandra Headland HMAS Brisbane Memorial yesterday evening (Wednesday, May 1) for a march against domestic and family violence. The march was followed by a candle lighting and shoe ceremony to remember those we have lost to domestic and family violence.
In partnership with the regional domestic and family violence support service, Centacare, Sunshine Coast Council and a large number of residents united to send a clear message that domestic and family violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our community.
Mayor Mark Jamieson said Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month continues to raise awareness about the occurrence and impacts of domestic and family violence to our community, and provide information about available support for those seeking help.
“Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month is one way in which we can seek to raise awareness of this insidious problem and encourage members of our community to support respectful relationships, practise positive attitudes and behaviours, and promote a culture of non-violence,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“In 2019, the theme will follow the State Government’s bystander campaign which encourages the community to learn how to identify domestic and family violence and do something about it.
“The candle lighting and shoe ceremony on Wednesday evening at Mooloolaba illustrated the harsh and sad reality for many families every year who are impacted by domestic and family violence-related homicides.
“I think there is a no more confronting reminder of this scourge in our community and the enormity of loss that is suffered from domestic and family violence than our shoe ceremony.
“Every pair of shoes represents a woman, man or child who should still be with us.
“This is a stark reality – and a powerful message.
“While we may live in a beautiful location like the Sunshine Coast, this is a sobering reminder that domestic and family violence affects our community, just like it does every other community across the nation.
“As Mayor and as a White Ribbon Day Ambassador, I’m proud to work alongside the Queensland Police Service, service providers and our community to send a clear message that violence of this sort will not be tolerated – and it must stop,” Mayor Jamieson said.
Centacare Regional Domestic and Family Violence Service manager Brigitte McLennan said the service had experienced a steady increase in demand for domestic and family violence support from people in the Sunshine Coast area.
“During 2018, our Centacare Regional Domestic and Family Violence Service supported 4837 domestic and family violence victims, almost 30% would identify as at immediate and serious high risk of harm,” Ms McLennan said.
“The number of referrals we received from the Queensland Police Service in 2018 increased by 17% on 2017 figures. That’s been a significant increase for us to cope with.
“The gathering of the local community to make a stand against domestic and family violence at our annual vigil is a really powerful way to encourage people experiencing domestic and family violence to come forward and seek help.”
Division 4 Councillor John Connolly agreed that the Domestic Violence march and candle lighting ceremony on May 1 was a very sobering event.
“It is important to honour those who have lost their lives and those left behind as a result of domestic and family violence,” Cr Connolly says.
“We hope the month-long campaign will challenge our communities to consider their attitudes towards domestic and family violence and recognise that a whole of community response is required to stop the violence.
“The aim of the march is to encourage family, friends, neighbours and colleagues of victims to join us and take steps they might not otherwise take to respond to domestic and family violence.”
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