From the first steps to the last, Thursday’s White Ribbon march was populated with students from Inverell’s three high schools, standing against violence.
“(It’s) to put a message out that violence is not good, it’s not good to beat on people,” 16-year-old Macintyre High School student Matthew Blakey said.
“I reckon if someone has to bash a woman, they aren’t a real man. They shouldn’t have to beat on their wife, or girlfriend.”
Participants stretched an entire block, including the students, support workers, residents, toddlers, groups of men, mothers with babies on their hips, White Ribbon ambassadors, elected officials and NSW police officers.
Domestic Violence Liaison Officer Senior Constable Lauren Wheeler felt the main target to reduce violence was reaching out to youth.
“I believe it starts with kids in the family home, and that’s where the environment they grow up in, reflects on how they become as adults, and relationships and how they treat people,” she said.
Inverell mayor Paul Harmon addressed the throng at the finale of the march at the council building. He noted sobering statistics about the toll of domestic and public violence, then shared his story about how violence experienced as a child could compromise an entire life.
Cr Harmon said he was thankful he grew up in a loving, caring home, but the same could not be said for his aunts, uncles and father.
“They grew up in an alcoholic, abusive relationship, and I’ve seen the long-term scars that that has left on them, and the issues that they have to deal with in their life because of an abusive, alcoholic father,” he said.
“And I want to make sure that future generations do not have to go through, and deal with the issues, that they continually have to deal with in everyday life.”
He said it was significant the march was scheduled a day earlier than the official White Ribbon Day of November 25, with an end in front of the courthouse where court was in session and perpetrators of violence stood in judgement.
“I hope our message is loud and clear, today’s perpetrators, that it is not acceptable in our community, and we will not tolerate it,” he said to a round of applause.