A public message on the hidden scourge of domestic violence in north west communities was unveiled in Gunnedah on Friday.
The roadside display titled “In their Shoes” features nearly 270 pairs of predominately women and children’s shoes alongside a banner bearing the hashtag “Gunnedah says no to violence”.
The shoes represent the number of domestic violence cases thought to occur in the local community each year. The figure was based on 90 reported domestic violence incidents last year and studies which consistently show only one in three people affected by the crime, report to police.
Gunnedah Family Support Home Base caseworker, Leah Woods, said more awareness about the issue will help create better support in the community.
“A lot of people still think about domestic violence being just physical,” Ms Woods said.
“It is that but there’s so much more to it.”
She highlighted the range of abuse people suffer, from emotional and social to verbal and financial abuse.
“If people aren’t brought up in it, they don’t always know about it,” she said.
“And the people that are, think it’s normal, which of course it’s not.”
Gunnedah shire mayor Jamie Chaffey said council offered its 100 per cent support of the campaign, which is being run in conjunction with Gunnedah Domestic and Family Violence Action Group.
He encouraged not only victims to speak out but the wider community too.
“[Domestic violence] is not something you can close your eyes and pretend it’s not there,” Cr Chaffey said.
“It can not be tolerated.”
He labelled it a timely issue for families, especially coming up to the Christmas holiday season.
Gunnedah’s shoe display coincided with national White Ribbon Day and the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women – campaigns which call for men to speak out and never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. It formed part of a wider Gunnedah campaign to raise awareness about domestic and family violence which included a touch football gala day, movie night and White Ribbon coasters at local hotels which list contact phone numbers and information for those in need of support.
People are invited to show their support by tying a pair of unwanted shoes to the fence outside Kitchener Park.