The threat of storms may have forced organisers to cancel the Moreton Bay Says NO to Domestic Violence march at Redcliffe on Friday, but the community still came together and took an oath to speak out and bring about change.
A cross-section of the community headed indoors to attend an event at The Komo hotel including students from schools and the Australian Trade College, representatives from community groups, local business owners, police, politicians and frontline staff who deal with the impact of Domestic and Family Violence every day.
Guest speakers included MC Reverend Paul Clarke from Redcliffe Uniting Church, Moreton Bay Police District Superintendent John Hallam, Ria Wong from the Mate Bystander Program, student Bradley Zeith and survivor Danielle.
Uncle Michael Connolly performed the welcome to country and said without women, there would be no men.
“We’re all humans. Together we respect must respect our women. I pay my respects to all the beautiful women who give us the life we have today,” he said.
Mr Connolly said he was heartened by the number of young men in the audience who would make the generational change needed to end domestic and family violence.
Australian Trade College student Bradley Zeith spoke on behalf of the region’s youth.
He said he understood firsthand the impact of domestic and family violence, and he thanked those present for being part of the solution.
“We are fighting a war in the suburbs,” he said.
“Let’s as a generation get the conversation going,” he said before urging those affected or those who know someone affected to seek help.
Moreton Bay Police District Superintendent John Hallam said Queensland Police Service attended 208 domestic and family violence incident callouts every day.
“That’s just not right. It’s just not acceptable,” he said.
He said calls for assistance were on the rise due to increased awareness of the problem and reporting but also due to drug and alcohol abuse, mental health, financial crises and job losses and many other reasons.
Superintendent Hallam said it was not just a policing problem and would not be solved through arrests but through a whole-of-community approach.
He said it was important to work with local agencies and community groups to give people the confidence to come forward and report domestic and family violence.
“It is really good to see a diverse representation of our community participating … the young men and women here,” he said.
Griffith University Mate Bystander Program representative Ria Wong said the Moreton Bay Region had one of the leading community responses to the problem.
Ms Wong said surveys showed the majority of people wanted to do something but feared getting it wrong or making it worse for the victim.
“The worst thing we can do as a community is nothing,” she says.
She said survivors felt invisible and doing nothing sent the wrong message to them and the perpetrators.
Ms Wong said domestic and family violence was 100 per cent preventable.
Domestic and family violence survivor Danielle bravely shared her story and spoke about the impact on her and her children.
She told of the terror, isolation, despair and the feeling that no-one understood what they were going through.
“No-one knows what it has taken to be the woman I am today, but I do,” she said. “I refuse to be a victim of the past.”
She said she was continuing to rebuild her life and hoped her story would inspire those living with abuse or who know someone who is to ask for help and never give up.
“I didn’t get here on my own. It took a village,” she said.
She thanked the team at Encircle for helping her through her journey of more than a decade.
If you or someone you know needs help, phone 000 (in an emergency) or 1800 RESPECT.