Around 60 women and eight men joined together in Iluka on Monday of last week in the Clarence Valley march4justice protest march, organised by Berri Brown (Iluka) and Robin Thomas (Woombah) to say, “Enough is Enough”.
Berri Brown, shared her reason for protesting, saying that, “Domestic violence is about emotional, financial and verbal abuse. I want things to change so that my little girl will be able to go about her day in the knowledge that whatever she decides to do in her future she will never have to be silenced or not be believed if this was to happen to her”.
Guest speaker Prue Leggoe OAM of Maclean said, “Of the 60 women present only one woman put up her hand to say she had never experienced sexual harassment or abuse. One of the men attending said he was there to stand for his two daughters who had experienced sexual abuse. This is a devastating statistic”.
Prue added that is seemed that nothing had changed since she had experienced sexual harassment when a Member of the Victorian Parliament 40 years ago. “It seems to have gotten worse in Parliaments, where power is used to manipulate and frighten an abused person, and workplaces continue to be unsafe for many women and men.” She said.
“Not only do laws need to change, but community attitudes and leadership on this issue needs to be at the forefront of improving our community values and culture.”
The march called upon our local politicians to commit to support the actions which speakers at the meeting want to be taken to stop sexual abuse including:
· Better education at schools on consent and respect
· Committing to what they will do to actively change the culture. Will they lead a conversation and engage in a more direct way with women on these issues? If not, why not?
· Improve access to advocacy and resources in our community so that there is adequate support for people who experience sexual abuse and harassment in our community
· Give more status, power, and resources to the Office of the Status of Women in Governments
· Explore how “restorative Justice” can be used to get perpetrators to acknowledge their abusive sexual and criminal behaviour and reduce the number of contested rape and abuse cases.
· Improvements in Sexual Discrimination legislation that better protects the abused. They should not have to lose their jobs or have their lives ruined.
Organisers said, the marchers also noted that Independent women MPs have shown to be more open, willing, and able to deal with these issues than MPs tied to the policy or stance of their Party.
These independent thinkers are gaining traction in Australian politics, as voices for communities who feel left behind.