Reclaim the Night Campbelltown to fight domestic violence and sexual assault

Loud and proud: Organisers hope the Campbelltown Reclaim the Night event is as big as Wollongong's event this year. Picture: Adam McLean
Loud and proud: Organisers hope the Campbelltown Reclaim the Night event is as big as Wollongong's event this year. Picture: Adam McLean

Seven women have lost their lives in believed domestic violence incidents across Australia in the past nine days.

In all but two of these cases men who were known to the women have been arrested in relation to their deaths.

Campbelltown Domestic Violence committee members are horrified by these statistics and they are encouraging people to take a stand.

The committee will host a Reclaim the Night event at the Campbelltown Arts Centre on October 27 from 5.30pm.

WILMA Women’s Health Centre manager and committee member Michelle Mays said the event was a chance to come together and fight violence against women.

“When you hear stories, particularly the more brutal ones, it’s important to keep the prevalance violence against women in the forefront of people’s minds,” she said.

“This year’s event has come at the right time.

“We need to show our unity and our strength.

“This is something that affects all women of all ages.

“Women deserve to feel safe.”

Reclaim the Night started in Leeds, UK in 1977 as a part of the Women’s Liberation movement.

The event was aimed at reducing sexual assault and helping women to feel safer on the street at night.

Ms Mays said the local event had evolved in recent years to cover all acts of violence against women.

She encouraged all Macarthur women to come along and show their support.

“We hold this event every year, but in the past couple of years numbers have been a bit low so we have revitalised and revamped it this year,” Ms Mays said.

“We will have live entertainment, singalongs, games, activities, a self-defence presentation, a free barbecue and more.

“It is an important event – we encourage all women to come along, have a good time and raise awareness about this important issue.”

Ms Mays said while this was a women’s health event, men were welcome to come along and support the women in their lives.

Domestic violence is the most common cause of police call-outs in Macarthur.

Recent Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research findings revealed domestic assault incidents had risen 44.9 per cent in the Camden local government area during the past year.

Camden crime manager Detective Chief Inspector Jayne Doherty said there were a number of factors that contributed to the increasing reports of domestic violence.

“[These] include the increasing population, mortgage and other stresses along with ongoing campaigns to encourage reporting of [domestic violence] by victims and neighbours or friends,” she said.

“We have a lot more schemes and programs to support and encourage victims of domestic violence which is starting to remove the stigma that used to exist around it and empower victims to report and leave the violence.”

Camden police attend approximately 200 calls a month for domestic violence related crimes.

Detective Chief Inspector Doherty said nobody was immune from the effects of domestic assault.

“We find it can happen just as easily in a home where families are professional business people as it can in homes on social welfare,” she said.

“The difference is the dependence of the victim on services to escape the violence, and their willingness to report it.”

A Domestic Violence Intervention Team was started at Camden and Campbelltown police stations last year to combat the crime.

For more information about Reclaim the Night, visit: facebook.com/ReclaimSWS.