A SEA of orange flooded Sydney Street in Kilmore on Friday as the community took a stand against gender-based violence.
Residents throughout the Mitchell Shire gathered together in orange ‘Respect Victoria’ t-shirts and heard from newly-elected mayor David Lowe and Amanda Kelly from Women’s Health about the 16 Days of Activism campaign.
“Today we are making some history, where we all unite to ‘call it out’, and that is the motto today,” Cr Lowe said.
“Today is a show of strength, hope and courage. Our community strength is a united stance in stopping violence against women.”
According to Victoria Police statistics, the Mitchell Shire ranks eighth highest in the state for incidences of family violence, per 100,000 population rate.
“The shire’s figures are disturbing, but today we’ve made a small step on the journey to universally respecting and supporting women,” Cr Lowe said.
“What a great show of strength for those that have been impacted by violence and who have come out today to show that this vicious cycle can be broken.
“You are supported. We as a community are here for you, today, tomorrow and forever.”
Ms Kelly said the day was about the community taking action.
“We each have a great influence in our conversation and our actions, and this campaign sets the agenda and also challenges us to call out disrespect when we see it, when we hear it and when we experience it,” Ms Kelly said.
“We’re here to walk, and you might ask ‘how can a walk make a difference?’
“It does many things, it brings us together as a community, it shows our support, and it symbolises that this is a journey.
“We’re not going to fix things today, but we are making steps towards sorting things out.”
The community walk was the first of many steps to be taken before change was made.
“Change takes commitment, it takes time and it is completed step by step, so I think it’s good to consider that while we walk today,” Ms Kelly said.
“Call out gender inequality and sexism when you see it. Don’t laugh at the sexist joke, challenge comments such as ‘man up’ or ‘you throw like a girl’.
“Be the person in your organisation or your community to challenge gender stereotypes. These conversations only happen when somebody starts them.
“This is about us taking action, not only as individuals in our families, but in our work places and in our communities.”