In its second outing, the Red Bench Relay continued to bring council staff and communities together to recognise the issue of Domestic and Family Violence (DFV). Despite the constant threat of COVID-related cancelations, five councils across Queensland held walks from their Red Rose Foundation Red Benches during the 2021 United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism (from 25 November to 10 December). These councils—Boulia Shire Council, Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Mt Isa City Council, Townsville City Council, and Livingstone Shire Council (which hosted two events)—have again demonstrated their commitment to ending violence and abuse in their communities. Since its inception in 2020, Queensland councils and their communities have been encouraged by the Local Government Association of Queensland to take a short walk, ideally from a Red Rose Foundation Red Bench, to put DFV in the spotlight. Mayors, councillors, council staff, members of the community, children and dogs created a sea of red during this year’s events, sharing facts, videos and photos across their social media channels. Townsville City Council’s event also encouraged participants to tie a ribbon to their Red Bench, signifying unity as they stand together to say no to domestic and family violence within their community.
DFV is an issue that affects us all, and local government has shown that it can play its part in helping to address it.
DFV is an issue that affects us all, and local government has shown that it can play its part in helping to address it. These walks, which are often supported by senior council leaders, demonstrate that councils have an important role to play within their workplaces and communities; that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated. As the level of government closest to the community, this is vital leadership on an important social issue. Each Queensland council is also encouraged throughout the year to install Red Benches in public spaces in their communities, an initiative of the Red Rose Foundation to raise awareness of DFV and build a permanent reminder that DFV occurs within all communities. The LGAQ also showed its support in 2021, hosting a walk from its Red Rose Foundation Red Bench outside LG House. With a healthy number of staff, dogs and children, the walk took in the beautiful waterside of Newstead. Joining the event were the Co-Chairs of the DFV Prevention Council, Vanessa Fowler and Bob Atkinson, along with Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Amanda Camm MP. As a former deputy mayor, Ms Camm spoke at the postwalk breakfast about the role local government can play in ending DFV, and why events like the Red Bench Relay are so important. On each Red Rose Foundation Red Bench there is a short statement referencing DFV homicides in Queensland. It demonstrates the power of collaboration and why we need to work together on this complex issue… “together we can change the ending”. The LGAQ hopes to see even more Queensland councils taking part, later this year, in the third Red Bench Relay.