ADVOCATES fighting domestic violence are bringing their awareness campaign to one of the region’s most patronised and sacred settings: a Newcastle Knights home game.
Charity Got Your Back Sista has partnered with the Knights to bring its message to a wider audience, at half-time in the August 5 game against the New Zealand Warriors.
Charity founder Melissa Histon said she expected more than 250 people to register to wear “Say no” shirts and march onto the field while Rachel Platten’s song Stand By You accompanies a video showing community and business leaders standing up against abuse.
“In terms of promoting this message to a bigger audience, this is a wonderful platform to go from reaching a couple of hundred people to thousands,” Ms Histon said.
The event follows the charity’s 1000 People, 1 Voice event at the then Hunter Stadium last September, which raised funds to go towards projects creating more beds for women who have fled abuse.
“We had women come last year who were in abusive relationships and said ‘I want to feel empowered and like my community is with me’,” she said.
“One woman was even getting abusive text messages and calls while she was at the event.”
Ms Histon said tying this year’s event to a Knights game provided the charity with a “much bigger stage” from which to encourage awareness and discussion about the often hidden crime.
Participants on the field will hold banners that say “People of the Hunter and your local club say no to domestic violence” on one side and “Yes to ending the silence” on the other side.
The crowd will be asked to join in and hold up the distributed banners in response to questions.
“This says ‘What you’re experiencing is not OK, it’s not acceptable and we stand behind you to reach out and ask for help,” she said.
“It puts the issue directly in front of people so they can reach out and say ‘I’m experiencing this but the community is behind me and I am not alone’.
“It’s also about saying ‘This is happening around us and we can’t ignore it’.”
Got Your Back Sista has collected and raised more than $53,000 to provide furniture, household items and store vouchers to women who have fled violence to set up their own home. It has also established a workshop and mentoring program called Rise Up and Thrive this year, thanks to a $20,000 grant from Aurizon.
Women aged 19 to 55 have participated in the workshops covering healthy relationships, mindfulness, improving self esteem, changing negative mindsets and money management.
Ms Histon said matching the women with a positive role model had been well received.
“These women want a friend to give them motivation and drive their direction to achieve,” she said. “But some have been excluded from their family and friends so long they just want someone to have a cup of tea with - a big sister.”
To be part of the August 5 on-field event, participants need to be game ticket-holders, make a $20 donation that gets you a t-shirt, and register online at mycause.com.au/events/gybsknights. The Newcastle Herald is a supporter.