The Broken Hill community marked the start of United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism, an annual international campaign against gender-based violence, on Friday, November 25 – which also coincided with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Led by the Far West Local Health District (FWLHD)’s Violence, Abuse and Neglect Service (VANS), along with fellow local health services including Staying Home Leaving Violence and Lifeline Connect Broken Hill, an event was held at the Town Square, creating a safe space for the community to come together to promote the 16 Days of Activism – which concludes on Sunday, December 10 with International Human Rights Day.
Marking the stage with 68 white candles and 38 coloured candles to represent the women and children respectively that were lost to domestic violence in 2022, the event also acted as a chance to work together to get better educated, increase awareness towards ending violence against women and children, and to provide support to survivors of domestic violence.
“I think it’s paramount if we’re looking for a solution for gender-based violence to ensure that we have these events so that survivors know that they are supported by the community,” FWLHD VANS Manager, Rebecca Deer, told the Barrier Truth.
“As we spoke about on that night, it’s just important that we’re all part of the solution. As much as we talk about gender-based violence with most perpetrators being male and the majority of survivors being female and children, it’s actually all of us coming together for the solution.
“Having nights where we all can come together and show the support not only to the survivors there, but also to show the community that we really do say no to violence against women and children is just paramount in the solution.”
FWLHD VANS Aboriginal Trainee, Claudia Martin-Files, who was a guest speaker at the event on Friday night, shared her own lived experience, telling us it was important to connect her story to others who might be going through or recovering from a domestic violence situation themselves.
“I just think it’s important for other people to hear the perspective from someone that’s experienced it and to talk about the impacts that it can have on you as a person and your sense of safety. I think it’s something that is hard to do for people to speak about, so I felt like if I had the opportunity to do it, then I wanted to take that opportunity”, she said.
With one in six women experiencing abuse from a current or former partner, as well as 75 per cent of women being murdered after leaving their relationship, Ms Martin-Files said these statistics “speaks to the things you hear about; ‘why doesn’t she just leave”.
Ms Martin-Files added that “the risk for females leaving a violent relationship actually increases”, with VANS encouraging people within these experiences of violence in any form to trust their gut and utilise the many services available.
If you or someone you know needs support, contact the FWLHD Violence, Abuse and Neglect Service on 08 8080 1100, or present to the Broken Hill Community Health Centre at 2-4 Sulphide St (from 9am-5pm), or call the 24/7 Crisis Response Service on 08 8080 1300, or present to your nearest LWLHD Emergency Department. In an emergency, call 000.