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The walk that stopped traffic
Emerge helped to organise Melbourne’s third Walk Against Family Violence on Friday 25th November. Part of White Ribbon Day, the walk brings the community together to raise awareness of, and take action against, family violence.
With traffic and trams diverted, walkers had right of way from the Town Hall along Bourke St Mall, down Elizabeth St and along Flinders St to finish at Federation Square. For half an hour the heart of the CBD was transformed into a sea of black and white balloons bearing the walk logo.
Emerge staff were proud to take part along with representatives from other agencies, government departments, councils, members from the disability sector, dignitaries, Victoria Police, men sporting T-shirts with the slogan “don’t turn your back on family violence” as well as members of the public. Bringing up the rear was a fire truck displaying the no violence message with a White Ribbon banner draped across the front.
Also taking part was Carol Robinson, mother of Sherry Robinson, who was brutally murdered by her partner in 2010 for taking their young son overseas on holiday against his wishes. In Victoria violence in the home makes up 40 per cent of all murders, at least 50 per cent of child protection cases and is also a key cause of homelessness.
That’s why the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest global male-led movement to end violence by men against women, is so important. Speaking after the walk at the Not 1 More event at Federation Square, Australia’s White Ribbon Foundation chairman Andrew O’Keefe referred to White Ribbon Day as a “day of shame but also of hope.” While domestic violence is enormous in its scope, he reminded us that collectively we have the ability to solve it.
Describing domestic violence as the “number one abuse of human rights in this country and around the world,” the Seven Network presenter called on the men of Australia to be White Ribbon ambassadors in their everyday lives by acting as role models and “respecting the very notion of respect”. O’Keefe closed his inspiring speech with Ghandi’s famous words: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Players from Melbourne Storm lead the way by taking the oath. Over 15,000 Australian men have now sworn never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
At the close of the formalities, musicians including the Yung Warriors, Monique Brumby and Kutcha Edwards took to the stage with the day’s events culminating with performances by [B]rave (bands rock against violence events), at the Transport Bar, Federation Square.
With walkers numbering in the region of 1200 – a huge increase over previous years – we can all celebrate and spread a message of hope for a future free from violence.
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