By Jess Baker
Dozens of members of the Southern Downs community gathered last week to remember and support those impacted by family and domestic violence.
Each May, Queensland recognises Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month to raise community awareness and promote the avenues of help available to those suffering.
Warwick Safe Haven Inc. hosted its annual Peace Walk and Candlelight Vigil on Wednesday 5 May to mark the beginning of the official prevention month and to remember lives lost.
Members of the community – including schoolchildren, churches and social clubs – walked together from Warwick Town Hall to the Uniting Church Hall on Guy Street, led by the Warwick Thistle Pipe Band.
The event and candle lighting ceremony commenced at 6.00pm, where attendees listened to powerful stories and songs of survival before lighting a candle in remembrance.
Warwick Safe Haven Inc. committee president Bette Bonney said she hoped the evening demonstrated to those suffering that there is a community of people who want to, and can, help.
“Those that have been impacted by family and domestic violence, we are supporting you,” Bette said.
“You’re not alone.”
Guest speaker at the event Southern Downs councillor Marco Gliori shared his personal story of growing up around violence.
“I was four-years-old, less than 500 metres from here in a house in Dragon Street, the first time I saw my father throw a plate of Mum’s fine spaghetti against the wall,” Cr Gliori said.
“In retrospect, what I should have done at that moment was this: I should have leapt into my father’s lap and hugged him, told him that I loved him – that we all did.”
He said he understands that dysfunctional adults and parents often become so due to their previous experiences, their “unrealistic expectations, past traumas, unfulfilled dreams and unimaginable torture”.
“Although past experiences may be reasons for our behaviour, we must never accept that such reasons are an excuse for bad behaviour, for violence, for intimidation and bullying.”
Cr Gliori said neither he nor his family ever complain about their past, but are grateful for their lives and consider themselves lucky.
“As we’ve seen on the news in recent weeks, not all families who experience domestic violence are lucky. Not all children survive,” he said.
“We cannot accept this situation. It is intolerable.
“As family members, as neighbours, as teachers, police officers, work mates and as a village of human beings we need to be brave and speak up.”
The Warwick Safe Haven Inc. committee led those who attended the event in a pledge against family and domestic violence, vowing to never “commit, excuse or remain silent about any form of domestic violence and to offer (their) voice and support, where possible, to those affected”.
If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic or family abuse and it is an emergency, call 000. Assistance is also available through the services below.
• National Helpline (24/7) at 1800RESPECT
• DV Connect (24/7) at 1800 811 811
• Domestic Violence Action Centre Toowoomba at 07 4642 1354
• DV Connect MENSLINE at 1800 600 636
• Cornerstone Warwick at 07 4661 4777
• CDS Stanthorpe at 07 4681 3777