Armidale community rallies in the mall against domestic violence for Reclaim the Night

STAND UP: Domestic Violence Steering Committee members Carolyn Burgess and Terri King at the Reclaim the Night rally in the Beardy Street Mall on Friday.

STAND UP: Domestic Violence Steering Committee members Carolyn Burgess and Terri King at the Reclaim the Night rally in the Beardy Street Mall on Friday.

EVERY week in Australia one woman dies at the hands of a violent partner or former partner.

On Friday the Armidale community gathered for the Reclaim the Night rally against all forms of domestic violence.

Armidale Women’s Shelter manager Carolyn Burgess said the rally honours the roots of the Reclaim the Night movement that started in the 1970s.

“Changing the state of domestic violence is a huge ask, it’s a massive social problem,” she said.

IN TRIBUTE: There were 68 lights hung at the event to honour the 68 women in Australia who have lost their life to domestic violence already this year. Photo: Madeline Link

IN TRIBUTE: There were 68 lights hung at the event to honour the 68 women in Australia who have lost their life to domestic violence already this year. Photo: Madeline Link

“The structures that support domestic violence are basically that inequality between men and women, while there’s that fundamental gender inequality it allows this to grow.”

The rally took place on White Ribbon Day that focuses on the role of men in the prevention of domestic violence, but Ms Burgess said it was important that gender-based violence is a women’s issue.

“There is a tendency to say, ‘Well this is a women’s issue, but let’s talk about the men’,” she said.

There is a tendency to say, ‘Well this is a women’s issue but let’s talk about the men.’ Let’s not, actually. - Carolyn Burgess

“Let’s not, actually.

“Let’s talk about the women and the fact that domestic violence is the most significant cause of homelessness in women.”

The night was run by the Domestic Violence Steering Committee, a collective of services that work with survivors of domestic violence in Armidale.

Ms Burgess said these groups work together due to the far-reaching implications of domestic violence.

WOMEN STAND TOGETHER: Armidale's Reclaim the Night rally, held on White Ribbon Day, saw scores of locals make a stand against domestic violence together.

WOMEN STAND TOGETHER: Armidale's Reclaim the Night rally, held on White Ribbon Day, saw scores of locals make a stand against domestic violence together.

“The flow on effects this has on the women and children from developmental to educational to future employment, it’s ongoing,” she said.

“The monetary cost of not addressing domestic violence is huge and extremely short-sighted.”

Domestic violence survivor Terri King shared her story of abuse on the night.

“By having someone come forward and tell their story I think that removes the shame around something that shouldn’t be shameful at all,” she said.

“In raising awareness we can assist not only potential victims or people who are victims but also family members to be able to recognise that it’s occurring.”

The rally had performances, speeches and march around the streets.

It comes as the New England Local Area (Police) Command employs a new domestic violence officer to counter the increase in domestic violence reports.

Between October, 2014, and September, 2015, 51 per cent of all of the command’s domestic violence assaults were recorded in Armidale.

New England Detective Inspector Ann Joy said the figures didn’t even include breaches of apprehended violence orders, intimidation or verbal offences.

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