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11 November 2020
BY DYLAN DE JONG
A Wimmera committee dedicated to ending domestic violence will push on with an annual campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic to raise awareness of its cause.
Wimmera Committee Against Family Violence launched its ‘Shine the Light’ campaign – an online event to highlight a pressing need in the community to support those experiencing family violence.
This replaces an annual march, which traditionally sees hundreds of residents take to Horsham streets to help raise awareness of the issue.
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This year’s campaign will conclude on social media with a video of residents backing the campaign.
Committee vice-chair Shane Podolski, who was eager to push forward with plans despite the pandemic, started the concept.
Mr Podolski said the artwork he used for the campaign, which featured white silhouettes of a woman and her child against a dark backdrop, aimed to encourage people to speak out against family violence.
“The concept is that victims of domestic violence and children live in the darkness and the only way we can help them is by shining a light and showing them there’s a way out,” he said.
“I walked into the Horsham Town Hall where I work while we were in lockdown. It was dark and I thought ‘I wish I could just turn the lights on’.
“Then it came to me straight away – it’s the same with domestic violence, it’s just darkness.
“This year we’re asking the community to contribute a photo of themself holding a light, or a five to 10-second video saying they stand up against domestic violence.”
The committee will launch its social media campaign on November 27, sharing the messages of hope against domestic violence.
“Instead of doing the walk we are going to blanket social media with an online campaign that hopefully people will share with their families and raise awareness,” Mr Podolski said.
He said he hoped support from Wimmera residents would help solidify the message that family violence was unacceptable.
“The behaviours you walk past are the behaviours we accept,” he said.
“Reach out to people who you might think are victims – listen to those around you. The signs are obvious. Speak out.”
Mr Podolski said it was key for the community, friends and family to encourage those experiencing family violence to seek help. “I think it would be very challenging to take that first step, because you’re scared, you’re afraid and alone,” he said.
“But I think once you make that first step, there’s so many agencies and support networks out there that will help you, they just need to know what’s going on.
“In cases of family violence there is a deep fear of speaking up, and if the perpetrator finds out the repercussions of what’s going to happen can be frightening.
“But I think the more we can help these people and let them know there is a way out, the better we can be as a society.”
Mr Podolski has asked residents to email their photos or videos to firstname.lastname@example.org to support the ‘Shine The Light’ campaign.
• If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for advice or support. This free service providing confidential advice is open 24-7. In an emergency, call the police on triple zero, 000. People should report all incidents of violence to police.
The entire November 11, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!