The Blue Mountains Women’s Health and Resource Centre organised a rally against violence against women on June 5 which brought more than 250 sex and gender diverse community members together.
The action was initially called after the murder of a woman in North Katoomba in February, but was delayed because of pandemic health restrictions.
Elder Aunty Carol Cooper gave the welcome to country and Darug woman Jacinta Tobin gave an acknowledgment to country, also singing a song about women’s strength.
Survivor and community organiser Jocelyn Williams spoke of her trauma during the court process, saying there needed to be places other than the courts for people to give their evidence. “I got closure, a sense of justice when, after five years from when he was charged, the dentist was put in jail for his crimes. Still, 40 years later, this is hard to talk about.”
Arlia Fleming, from the Elizabeth Evatt Community Legal Centre, said “just as violence towards women and domestic violence is an epidemic, so too is racism and white supremacy”. She said that First Nations women have borne the brunt of the colonial invasion but they “survived and thrived for thousands of years raising strong children, grounded in culture”.
Chris Smith from the Mountains Men against Violence said men needed to “care more” about violence against women.
Community organiser Jude Finch called on the Blue Mountains Council to make the local government area “a safe place for women, for all genders, for all people” and to erect “No to Violence” signs. She said the New South Wales government must commit to the NSW Women’s Alliance’s nine-point plan to address sexual violence.
Finch said the government needed to address police discrimination by failing to provide safety and justice for women and training to ensure they respond as they should under the law.
She said the federal government must fund more community services for people fleeing from violence and to continue its funding for the Blue Mountains Evie project.
“Prevention and community education campaigns and programs need to be developed and implemented immediately. Perpetrator programs need to be developed that will ensure the ongoing cycle of violence stops.”
Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill and councillor Romola Hollywood presented the Council’s newly-launched gender equity strategy. NSW Labor MP Trish Doyle and federal Labor MP Susan Templeman spoke as did rally organiser Anne McKenzie.
Tessa McKay ended the event with a rendition of Lesley Gore’s “You don’t own me”.