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Place of Courage: Riverfront memorial will comfort victims and survivors of violence
A block of marble has been installed at Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge ahead of the International Day for the Prevention of Violence Against Women.
In an out-of-the-way corner of Murray Bridge’s Sturt Reserve sits a rippled block of stone.
Here, beside the River Murray, survivors of domestic and family violence will be given a place to reflect, to grieve and to remember.
The Place of Courage project is an initiative of veteran women’s rights campaigner Helen Oxenham and Spirit of Woman, the organisation she founded.
A year and a half after she proposed the idea of a dedicated memorial in Murray Bridge, it is on the verge of becoming a reality.
The riverfront sculpture by Christine Chelowa and Deb Jones resembles ripples on the surface of a pond, representing the impact violence has on loved ones and a whole community.
It features a written dedication:
To all who have died, all who have suffered and all who are still suffering from domestic and family violence. May you find comfort and healing here.
Linda Martin, chair of the Murray Bridge Regional Collaboration on Violence Against Women and Children, hoped the memorial would give solace to survivors, and educate the rest of the community.
“We are determined to frame domestic and family violence as a whole-of-community issue and spread the message that we all have a role to play in education and prevention”, she said.
Mayor Wayne Thorley hoped it would remind everyone of the community’s rock-solid commitment to eliminating domestic violence.
Memorial ceremony will start 16 days of awareness-raising
A ceremonial launch event will be held at Sturt Reserve at 11am on November 24.
The event will feature guest speakers, live music and a free family barbecue.
From the day after that, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, until December 10, Human Rights Day, Murray Bridge residents will be invited to participate in 16 days of activism against gender-based violence:
Check out Project Creative Courage, an exhibition of artworks on the theme of a loving community by local high school students, at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery from November 24
Look out for T-shirts with anti-violence messages, to be displayed in shop windows on Bridge Street
See a quilt stitched by participants from the Haven, the Women’s Information Service program at Murray Bridge Community Centre, and by members of local community groups; and a butterfly-themed collage created by members of Bridge Arts
Not all victims and survivors of family and domestic violence are female, but a majority are.
Forty-three women across Australia have died by violence so far in 2023, according to feminist activist group Destroy the Joint.
An average of 15 Australian women are hospitalised each day as a result of family and domestic violence, and more than a quarter of women have experienced violence or abuse by a live-in partner during their lifetimes, according to not-for-profit organisation Our Watch.
RSVP to the launch ceremony: www.eventbrite.com.au.
Get help: Call the Domestic Violence Crisis Line on 1800 800 098, or Murray Mallee Adelaide Hills Domestic Violence Service on 8228 8960; visit the Haven at the Edwards Square Community Centre, Murray Bridge between 10am and 2pm on weekdays, or the DVINA Centre on Standen Street between 10am and 4pm Monday to Saturday; or, in an emergency, dial 000.
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