MEDIA RELEASE - Council joins the community to ‘take a step in the right direction’ in a support campaign against domestic violence

Council will once again join the Sutherland Shire community to take a stride against domestic violence, participating in the annual 2km “Walk for Respectful Relationships” walking event, along the Cronulla coastline this Friday, 24 November 2023.

Local schools, residents, community groups and Council staff will come together to actively tackle the issue of domestic violence within the community and encourage individuals experiencing domestic violence to speak out and call out. All members of the community are welcome to join at any leg of the walk, contributing to raising awareness of and showing a united front against domestic and family violence.

Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce said “On Friday the community will once again unite and walk together against gender-based violence in a demonstration of unity and in support of the global Walk for Respectful Relationships campaign, run by UN Women.

“This is an opportunity for the community to raise awareness and show their unwavering support for victims, whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence. Collectively, we are sending a message that domestic and family violence has no place in our community.

“The wider campaign will see communities and people from all corners of the world passionately join forces to walk together against domestic violence. I’m incredibly proud to say that our local community has shown immense support in previous years, with an impressive 1,500 people expected to walk this year.”

The Sutherland Shire “Walk for Respectful Relationships” has been facilitated in partnership with Sutherland Shire Council, The Family Co., Woolooware High School, NSW Police Force, Caringbah Rotary and Enough is Enough.

It is expected that representatives from 18 local primary and high schools, including Principals, Deputies, staff and importantly students will participate in this year’s walk. Joined by notable guests, Member for Cook, Scott Morrison, Member for Cronulla and Opposition Leader, Mark Speakman, State MP for Women, Jodi Harrison, Member for Miranda, Eleni Petinos, Member for Heathcote, Maryanne Stuart, NSW Police Commissioner, Karen Webb, Aunt Deanna Schreiber, the Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce, and Deputy Mayor, Councillor Carol Provan.

Part of a globally led initiative and annual campaign to end domestic violence, run by UN Women - the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence runs every year from 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day).

The theme of this year’s campaign is “Call out, Speak out, Help out”, sending a clear message that domestic violence is not tolerated and shedding light on an issue that is often kept behind closed doors.

Demonstrating Sutherland Shire Council’s strong stance against domestic violence and continued support for the global 16 Days of Activism campaign, Council collaborated with The Family Co. and artist Freya Jobbins to deliver a public art installation, Highly Visible DV representing the stories of women who have experienced family and domestic violence. The art installation will be on display in Peryman Square from 20 November to 10 December 2023.

Mayor Pesce said, “these works of art are a powerful and inspiring display created by survivors of domestic and family violence and act as a reminder that there is hope and help available. I want to highlight the many local workers and volunteers who provide crucial support services to domestic violence victims across Sutherland Shire”.

“We are immensely grateful to the support services in our community who work tirelessly to provide help and expertise to people seeking advice or refuge. I encourage anyone who is concerned for themselves or others to reach out to a local support service for advice and support”.

“The Walk for Respectful Relationships event and coinciding initiatives play an important role in the awareness and prevention of domestic violence, which contributes to a safer and more connected community for us all,” Mayor Pesce added.

In a first for this annual event, Woolooware High School held a Public Speaking competition for the Walk for Respectful Relationships on 1 September, in which representatives from 18 schools came together to reflect on prior learnings on the context of this significant day and advocate for change. Students delivered speeches that pay respect to the challenging content and encourage the community play its part.

Woolooware High School Principal, Mardi Benson, said. “These incredible young people asked insightful questions and responded with obvious determination to make a difference in their world, creating a day of learning that was inspiring for us all.”

Residents can sign up for the walk with family, friends, colleagues, and community groups online Walk for Respectful Relationships.

Walk for Respectful Relationships: commences at 9.45am on Friday 24 November at Don Lucas Reserve, Cronulla, and finishes at South Cronulla Park, with a Community Presentation commencing at 11am and concluding at 12pm.

The art installation will be on display in Peryman Square from 20 November to 10 December 2023.

The winning students of the Woolooware High School Public Speaking competition will speak at the event presentation in South Cronulla Park on Friday 24 November, starting at 11:00am and concluding at 12:00pm.