8 June 2022

Wagga students make a statement about domestic violence with new sculptures

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Enlighten for Equity Sculptures unveiled at Riverside Precinct

The NSW Governor Margaret Beazley AC QC and Mayor Dallas Tout unveil the Enlighten for Equity Sculptures with school students from Kildare Catholic College, Mater Dei Catholic College, Mount Austin High School, and Wagga Wagga High School. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

NSW Governor Margaret Beazley described domestic violence as “a blight on our society” as she unveiled the Enlighten for Equity Sculptures in Wagga this week.

The Governor said unless the perpetrators of domestic violence were stopped, it would become a generational issue.

“There will be no hope for either the victims or the perpetrators if they aren’t helped,” she said.

Enlighten for Equity is a youth-led participatory industrial design and lighting project that forms part of Wagga Council’s delivery of the Wagga Women’s Health Centre partnership DVproject:2650.

The project is a primary prevention initiative aimed at reducing domestic and family violence in the community.

Wagga Council’s Equity team and an artist in residence engaged with students from 18 local primary schools, who developed posters reflecting what equity and respect mean to them and the Wagga Wagga community.

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The primary school concepts were then given to design and technology students and teachers from five high schools, who were tasked to transform the ideas into 3D mock-ups.

One design was chosen from each high school; Kildare Catholic College, Shepherd’s Park School, Mount Austin High School, Wagga Wagga High School, and Mater Dei Catholic College.

Council managed the production and installation of the standalone lighted sculptures.

More than 100 high school students and 850 primary school students were involved in creating the final five sculptures, which were officially unveiled by Ms Beazley and Wagga Mayor Dallas Tout at the Wagga Beach Riverside Precinct on Monday, 7 June 2022.

The sculptures create an equity walk within the precinct, starting near the entrance to the main car park and winding along the pathways to the new playground and through the open spaces.

Ms Beazley said everyone involved in the project had played an important role in the community.

“This is a project about a community,” she said, “and it’s very important you be acknowledged for that very reason.”

The Governor said being an active member of the community was what made it strong.

“It is what makes a place good to live and we all want to live in a place where we feel safe,” she said.

“The opportunity given to the school by this community project has provided the artist and the creators a means to reflect on and express the positive role equity plays in communities.

“And you’ve really shown that the journey is as important as the destination. It’s how you get there along the way which is important.

“It was a tough project because it acknowledged a problem and the prevalence of domestic violence and family violence in our communities.

“It is courageous that you were prepared to make a statement about it.”

The former judge said upon reading the artistic statement from the students she was struck by the depth and sensitivity exhibited by the pupils.

“You’ve sent a message to the community that needed to be given,” she said. “These works in Wiradjuri country give a sense of pride and hope to the entire community.”

Wagga City Mayor Councillor Dallas Tout said it was great to see the collaborative project come to fruition.

“When you are walking through the Wagga Beach Riverside Precinct, I encourage you to stop and take a few minutes to look at each sculpture and reflect on the themes and messages they convey about the connection between community and equity and respect, and positive and respectful relationships,” Cr Tout said.

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Director Community Janice Summerhayes said Enlighten for Equity was an important project for young people.

“Through the DV:2650 project, young people have indicated to us how strongly they feel about addressing issues of domestic and family violence,” Ms Summerhayes said.

“These sculptures reflect their ideas on what positive relationships look like, how we respect each other at home, in the community.

“I really am pleased to see that these young people’s ideas have now come to life for everybody to enjoy and reflect on at Riverside for years to come.”

The Enlighten for Equity project was funded by NSW Government (Stronger Country Communities Round Three) in partnership with the overall DVproject:2650.

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