A sea of purple-wearing activists marched through Central Maitland on Friday afternoon to raise awareness about domestic violence in the community.
Holding signs that urge others to 'stand up, speak up', marchers were members of Rotary, NSW Police, Carrie's Place and the wider Maitland community.
The march was a joint initiative of the Rotary Clubs of Maitland and NSW Police, in an effort to raise awareness about domestic violence and create change.
More than 50 passionate community members took part in the march on Friday, December 1, kicking off at Maitland Court House and ending at Maitland Town Hall with speeches.
Speaking at Maitland Town Hall after the march, Port Stephens-Hunter Police commander Wayne Humphrey said in this police district, domestic and family violence is by far the most reported crime.
"Police in this district will attend more domestic and family violence incidents than all other crimes reported to us," he said.
"Across the state, this police command is in the top five commands for reported incidents of domestic and family violence.
"The tragic reality is that domestic and family violence is the leading cause and factor of female homicide in this country."
Commander Humphrey said to ignore domestic and family violence is to condone it.
March organiser and Rotary District area governor Christine Walmsley said the partnership between NSW Police and Rotary is designed to increase awareness about domestic violence and also discuss how to better support victims.
"We're hoping that from this, we will be able to build stronger connections with the agencies and support the victims of domestic violence, because we want to form partnerships with them on how we can better improve our support," she said.
"We want to ask them 'what do you need from us?' and we hope to look at what schools are doing as far as an education campaign."
Maitland mayor Philip Penfold took part in the march, and said he was glad to march for this important issue and support Rotary and police.
"Domestic violence occurs in many forms, in many places," he said.
"It's important we continue to be comfortable enough to talk out about it, and encourage people to put their hand up when they're a victim and to get the support they need."
Speaking at town hall, Carrie's Place homelessness services program manager Ange Kiley shared some sobering information about domestic violence in our area.
"The biggest cause of homelessness is domestic and family violence," she said.
Ms Kiley said one in three women and girls over 15 have experienced physical violence, one in five have experienced sexual violence, and one in four experience violence by a partner living at home.
"Aboriginal women are over-represented, so that number increases to three in five Aboriginal women experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, and they are 30 times more likely to be hospitalised.
"In Australia every year up to 6000 women are hospitalised due to domestic and family violence, and one women every five to seven days is murdered by a current or former partner and there have been five murdered in the last week."
Ms Kiley said it's important community attitudes toward domestic violence change.
- Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone 1800-RESPECT 1800 737 732; Lifeline 13 11 14; beyondblue 1300 224 636.
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