More than 300 Sunshine Coast residents came together to take a stand against domestic and family violence in a moving candlelight vigil and march at Maroochydore on Wednesday 4 May.
Centacare has hosted the event since 2003, and over the last several years has partnered with Sunshine Coast Council to deliver the vigil, a core part of Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month.
This year’s theme Hear Her Voice, calls on people to hear the voices, stories and perspectives of women and children experiencing domestic and family violence.
Centacare Area Manager Adam Beck said the event aimed to raise awareness about the issue.
“The Queensland Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce has released its first report, Hear Her Voice and heard from countless women who courageously shared their experiences as survivors of domestic violence and this inspired us to use the name of the report for this year’s theme for our event,” Mr Beck said.
“Hear Her Voice is also a powerful reminder that often women’s views, opinions and ideas continue to be deemed insignificant or silenced and this cannot continue in a truly fair and just society.”
Crowds gathered just before dusk to collect their purple T-shirts and ribbons before setting off to march around Cotton Tree Park.
Guest speakers on the night included Member for Cooper and former young Australian of the Year Jonty Bush, who developed Queensland’s One Punch Can Kill campaign after the loss of her father and sister to incidents of domestic and family violence.
Sunshine Coast Youth Council members conducted a Q&A with DFV prevention ambassador, former Queensland Firebirds Vice Captain and player for Sunshine Coast Lightening Tara Hinchcliffe.
“Domestic and family violence is never okay and will never be tolerated,” said Ms Hinchcliffe.
The final part of the evening was the vigil itself. Local choir, New World Rhythm, sang while shoes and candles were placed on the jetty, each pair of shoes representing a life lost to domestic and family violence.
The vigil ended with a one minute’s silence to honour and remember these women and children.
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing (or is at risk of experiencing) domestic and family violence, contact your local Centacare domestic and family violence service.
In an emergency, call 000.
Call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800 RESPECT for advice and support. This service is open 24 hours and provides confidential advice via phone or webchat.