Walk, talk against violence at Lillydale Lake

Join local Aboriginal support services as they walk together in solidarity against family violence. Pictures: SUPPLIED.

By Mikayla Van Loon

The harsh reality that family violence caused deaths of women just aren’t reducing is something organisations like Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Centre is trying to change.

That’s why on Monday 4 December the Healing Centre, alongside other family violence support organisations from the region, will be walking against violence at Lillydale Lake.

Policy and Continuous Improvement Leader Rose Solomon said as a society, changing perceptions of family violence is essential to improving outcomes for women and girls.

“We know that a woman is killed every five days in Australia as a result of family violence, and it’s not getting any better, regardless of the efforts by police and the Royal Commission and the introduction of the hub’s and so forth,” she said.

“We want to raise awareness because we need to start changing attitudes. We need to take family violence more seriously.

“We need to understand the impact that it has on whole families, both in the short term and long term and the harm it causes to children growing up and how it influences their own behaviour.”

Having a visual presence and show of support from not only community organisations but the broader public has a domino effect when it comes to starting conversations.

“By walking together and starting conversations around the impact and what we need to do together as a community to make things better for these families, goes a long way,” Ms Solomon said.

“Events like this strengthen partnerships, it raises awareness of not only community organisations but the general public that are involved.”

As the lead specialist in Aboriginal specific family violence in the eastern metro region, Ms Solomon said while First Nations women and girls experience higher rates of violence, “it affects all our families”.

“Aboriginal women in particular are 11 times more likely to experience family violence in comparison to non-Aboriginal people.

“There’s differences to urban communities like in the Eastern Region in comparison to some communities up north where there’s very traditional, enclosed communities, they’re more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence and they’re more likely to lose their kids to go into care as a result of experiencing family violence.”

Forming a working group of local support organisations, Ms Solomon said the event is a partnership between Ngwala Willumbong Aboriginal Corporation, Victorian Aboriginal Childcare Agency (VACCA), Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place, Mission Australia, Women’s Health East and EACH’s Aboriginal health team.

On the day, these organisations will have marquees set up to provide information, there will be a traditional smoking ceremony and welcome to country, walkers will have the opportunity to hear for each organisation along the track with six stopping points and Ash Dargan will play the didgeridoo.

Victoria Police members have also volunteered their time and a barbecue to cook for everybody, while Mullum Mullum’s creations van will be providing coffees and traditional sweet treats with lemon myrtle.

“We’re actually running a couple of sub-projects that relate to the walk and each Aboriginal organisation and their clients are participating in the Clothesline Project where people with lived experience are actually painting messaging on T-shirts that will be displayed on the makeshift clothesline on the day, too.”

Getting the community involved, voting for the best T-shirt design will be available through a QR code and prizes will be awarded to the winners.

With hundreds of people having already responded to the event from across the Yarra Ranges and even from the inner eastern suburbs, Ms Solomon said it is expected to be big.

“Come along and support it, everybody’s welcome to come along and it’s a good way to bring people together and to start the conversations, the difficult conversations amongst community that need to be had.”

To join in the walk, meet at the Community Centre at Lillydale Lake at 10.30am. The event is expected to wrap up by 1.30pm.