Community support and solidarity shown at the candlelight vigil


A CANDLELIGHT ceremony, held at Tesch Park Maleny to honour the lives of people lost through family and domestic violence, brought together more than 100 participants on the evening of Thursday, May 20.
Held during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the event was a collaboration between Speak Up Now – Stop Domestic and Family Violence Maleny and Blackall Range and the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre. It brought people together to show their support and solidarity on this important issue.

Val France, from Speak Up Now, said that despite the gravity of the issue, it was a beautiful and poignant evening that was well supported, with people solemnly coming together to listen, show respect and honour those whose lives had been lost.

Several people spoke at the event including keynote speaker Tania Felstead, from the Red Rose Foundation; Stacey Oehlman, coordinator from the Sunshine Coast Regional Family Violence Service; Senior Sergeant Kate Teasdale, officer in charge of the Sunshine Coast region Vulnerable Person Unit; Cr Winston Johnston; Member for Glass House Andrew Powell; and Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace. who recently chaired a federal report into domestic and family violence.

During the ceremony, where community members were invited to place a candle at a symbolic alter made up of men’s, women’s and children’s shoes, Buddhist nun Tenzin intoned a specially focussed chant. Wearing purple ribbons, attendees then took a quiet and reflective walk to the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre where purple crosses provided a visual reminder of the solemn yet respectful nature of the gathering.
Music included specially written performances by Jacinta Foale accompanied by Emma McDonald and Sweet Chilli Choir.

“It was important that people asked themselves what they could do to help stop the scourge of domestic and family violence,” Val said.
“To stop this type of violence we need to look at the bigger picture. We can start to see change if we as a community actively work together to prevent the violence from occurring.
“We must stand up and say enough is enough, no more domestic violence, no more deaths, no more innocent people dying by the hands of someone who once said ‘I love you’.
“We have to speak up and say no to those we witness using disrespectful or abusive behaviour and together we can make a difference,” Val said.

For more information on recent and upcoming events and community conversations go to
www.facebook.com/SpeakUpNowEndFamilyViolenceMalenyandBlackallRange

Feature image: A symbolic altar of shoes to represent the lives lost to family and domestic violence

Cr Winston Johnston, Val France and Maleny Neighbourhood Centre management committee president Ian Demack
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