A clever Chinese philosopher once said: ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. It’s become a proverb which is used so much in daily conversation that it’s almost a cliché. However, like all clichés, it holds a considerable amount of truth.
Of course, Laozi was not just talking about setting off on a long hike or climbing a literal mountain. Rather he was asserting the notion that even a daunting, difficult venture begins with us taking action and putting one foot in front of another. However intimidating the task, we must start.
Beginning to tackle domestic violence is no exception. Over the last few weeks we have been bombarded with heartbreaking headlines about domestic and family violence here on the Gold Coast. It’s little surprise that we’re being labelled as ‘the domestic violence capital of Australia’, the statistics are shocking:
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• Southport Magistrates Court is reported to hear up to 50 cases a day.
• Cases have spiked by nearly 30 per cent since 2009.
• There were 4683 domestic violence applications lodged in the GC District last financial year.
Behind the numbers are shattered lives – every one of those statistics is a human being who needs the support of their community.
There has been overwhelming, constant commentary as a stunned Australia reels, not knowing how to solve the problem. The truth is, there is no magic wand to wave with an immediate fix, but we must be careful we don’t get lost in complex debate and distracting opinions. We might not know what the answer is, but what we do know is that we have to show those who are in need our strength that they have our support. Equally, we must begin to shine a light on the horror that hides behind closed doors and send a message to those whose behaviour is unacceptable that they can no longer be bullies enjoying a secret reign of terror at home.
As a community we must not merely shake our heads as the headlines break over and over again, or sit chattering with our friends about how awful these cases are. This is not a time for chit-chat, we have to take action. All of us must stand up and put one foot in front of the other and start on this journey, together.
Feeling safe in our own homes is a fundamental right and home should be a sanctuary of safe shelter. Yet for too long, domestic and family violence has flourished in an environment of silence, shame and secrecy.
No more silence. No more sitting. We stand together, and we walk together to make progress.
This may be a journey of a thousand steps, but we start with a single step.
Communities across Queensland will come together on Sunday 11th October for a state-wide day of action to demonstrate their commitment to safer families and better communities. It is our opportunity to walk shoulder to shoulder, show our support for victims of family violence and say NO to domestic violence.
The Walk of Respect is 9-11am, 11 October 2015, Broadwater Parklands, Southport.
The walk is expected to take 20 minutes.
Walkers are asked to meet at the Great Lawn from 9am.
Music and sausage sizzle are available for walkers to enjoy at the end of the walk. A number of community organisations will be on hand to provide valuable information about domestic and family violence.
For more information visit cityofgoldcoast.com.au/walkofrespect. Or, email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are in danger now call 000.
For more information contact one of these organisations who can help:
DV Connect – 1800 811 811, dvconnect.org
Domestic Violence Prevention Centre Gold Coast – 5532 9000, domesticviolence.com.au
Lifeline – 13 11 14.