WOMEN wearing orange marched along Mornington Peninsula streets in support of victims and survivors of family violence and to amplify the message that all forms of violence against women, is unacceptable.
The 12th annual Walk Against Family Violence along Main Street, Mornington, was on Wednesday 25 November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Members of Southern Women’s Action Network (SWAN) arranged two group walks through the town and encouraged others to walk closer to home in smaller groups. About 20 women, including at least one with “personal experience of family violence”, walked about 42 kilometres.
SWAN is a social justice group of more than 200 women which has met on the peninsula over 24 years. Members say they tackle different social justice issues, with an awareness of family violence brought into sharp focus when they hosted anti-violence campaigner Rosie Batty in 2018.
“Family violence has escalated in frequency and severity during the lockdown, compounded by women having limited opportunities to report this,” SWAN’s Erica Churchill said. “We need to make sure women have the supports, the housing and the legal protection to be able to leave a violent situation.”
This view amplified the concerns of family violence by victims’ advocate Geraldine Bilston, of Dromana, who wrote that enforced isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic might lead to an increase in abuse. (“Fears of rise in family violence” The News 14/4/2020).
Ms Churchill said: “We walked because we want to achieve a state where everyone, on the peninsula, in Victoria and globally, can live their lives free from the fear of violence and be respected and valued.
“We need to challenge violence in all its forms; to promote respectful relationships, and to remove gender stereotypes and roles.”