Last Wednesday evening, community members gathered at a memorial to remember victims of domestic violence and raise awareness about ways to offer and seek support.
The poignant ceremony was hosted by the Tamworth Family Support Service at Hogan Oval under the clock tower to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, held in May every year.
The date May 4 is also regarded as National Domestic Violence Remembrance Day.
The event was supported and attended by several local organisations and representatives, including Narrabri and District Community Aid Service, the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, Summit Community Services and local police officers, with Chief Inspector Robert Dunn providing an update on the work being done to prevent domestic violence in our region.
The memorial involved speeches, a wreath-laying ceremony, a candlelit vigil to remember those who have died due to domestic and family abuse, and the harrowing impact on their surviving loved ones.
Eighteen shoes were placed under the clock tower, a visual and heartbreaking reminder of the lives lost to domestic violence in Australia so far this year.
“Here we are, four days into Domestic Violence and Family Violence Awareness Month, and we’ve already lost one woman, allegedly to domestic violence,” said NDCAS community development officer Kayla Nehrkorn.
“She is the 18th woman to have allegedly lost her life to domestic violence just this year.
“Domestic violence does not discriminate; nor is it exclusive to one socio-economic group, or cultural group, or religious group, or age group – it’s a problem that affects all of us.
“As women, we don’t need a dedicated month to be aware that Australia is in the grips of a domestic violence crisis.
“We are aware every time we walk to our car on a dimly lit street, our heart pumping in our ears, ‘walk faster, don’t forget to hold your keys in your hand’.
“We are very aware that on average, one woman loses her life to domestic violence every week.”
NDCAS community development officer Kayla Nehrkorn said on average, it costs a woman $18,000 and 141 hours to leave an abusive relationship.
“Not to mention the emotional and mental toll as well,” she added.
“For some women, it costs them less, others, it can cost them even more.
“For some women, their act of courage can cost them their lives.
“Leaving an abusive relationship takes a huge toll and affects every area of a person’s life, from emotional and psychological to financial.
“We need more investment in prevention, early intervention, response and recovery to properly address the underlying drivers of gender-based violence, better protect and support those most at risk and hold those who use violence to account.”
TFSS chief executive officer Belinda Kotris said the memorial was an opportunity for community members to ‘stand together and raise their voices’ against domestic and family abuse.
“This event and your attendance are an important way of raising awareness that DFV continues to be a real and serious threat to the safety and wellbeing of many people,” she said.
“Domestic and family violence is a growing issue in our community with many women and families impacted by its devastating effects.”
TFSS hopes the ceremony will start positive conversations about ways to stop abuse and support victims of domestic violence.
Through the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, TFSS works with women experiencing domestic violence across the New England North West area.
Whenever police attend a domestic violence incident, contact details are passed onto the WDVCAS team to offer support to women experiencing domestic violence.
For more information visit:
www.tfss.com.au Freecall 1800 073 388
1800 RESPECT www.1800respect.org.au
Narrabri Women and Children’s Refuge 24/7 call back service – 02 6792 4423