26 April 2024

'No More': Wagga joins national rally against gendered violence

| Chris Roe
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Wagga Women's Health Centre president Vickie Burkinshaw is calling for the community to take a stand against violence.

Wagga Women’s Health Centre president Vickie Burkinshaw is calling for the community to take a stand against violence. Photo: Chris Roe.

Wagga is getting behind a national rally calling for Australia’s decision-makers to take urgent action to end gendered violence.

The team from the Wagga Women’s Health Centre is encouraging the local community to turn out on Sunday at the Victory Memorial Gardens as part of the broader action – ‘No More: A National Rally Against Violence’.

Thirty-one Australian women have been killed by violence this year in Australia and Women’s Health Centre president Vickie Burkinshaw said it was time this was recognised as a national crisis.

“Seriously, what are we doing about this?” she said.

“This is a state of emergency and not enough resources are going towards it.”

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Indigenous-led not-for-profit What Were You Wearing is behind the rally and Vickie explained that the name points to a societal attitude that needs to be confronted.

“When you’re in the court system, they’ll say – well, what were you wearing and how much did you drink? – but that shouldn’t matter and yet it continues to come up in the judicial system as if that justifies being raped or violated,” she said.

The most recent death occurred on Monday (22 April) when 28-year-old Forbes woman Molly Ticehurst was allegedly killed by a former partner who was on bail for charges of rape and stalking.

“It was when the number of deaths got up to 26, which is nine more than last year, that the organisers said, ‘This is enough’ and then the incident in Forbes really took people over the edge,” Vickie said.

“In that circumstance, our judicial system let us down, but there are so many factors that contribute to this and as a community, we need to have the resources to do it.”

Wagga Mayor Dallas Tout has also backed the event and said it was important that community leaders take a stand.

“Unless the community gets on board and starts to get quite agitated about it, nothing will happen,” he said.

“Especially the men in the community need to speak up and talk about it because without everyone being on board, we are going to see those horrendous statistics that we have today.”

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In addition to the deaths, which include the women targeted during the Bondi stabbings, two in five women have experienced gendered violence since the age of 15 and 53 per cent of women will experience sexual harassment in their lifetime with an estimated 97 per cent of these cases going unreported.

“Part of what we want to do on Sunday is to collectively heal because I think everyone really felt what happened in Bondi and then what happened in Forbes so it’s a chance to heal together and hold each other,” Vickie said.

“We will honour the women whose lives have been lost so there will be a photo of them and their names and we’ll have a minute’s silence.

“Then we are also calling on the change-makers to say – well, what are you doing about this? It’s been a talkfest for too long, we actually need to replicate that primary response to things that are working straight away.

“I just really encourage everyone, kids, women and men in particular to join us and show that we’re all in this together.”

The rally will be held on Sunday 28 April at 11 am at the Victory Memorial Gardens in Wagga.

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