Enough is Enough

103.1 Power FM Ballarat
Published
May 15, 2024
May 21, 2024
Last Updated
May 16, 2024
Contributors
Written by
Sissy Eileen Austin
she/her
Gunditjmara, Keeray Wurrung and Djab Wurrung
Written by
she/her
Gunditjmara, Keeray Wurrung and Djab Wurrung
Written by

First Nations readers are advised this post mentions names of people who have passed. This post discusses alleged domestic violence, you may wish to disengage for your own wellbeing.

The nation is currently attempting to come to terms with extremely high rates of men’s violence against women. Statistics from Our Watch collected by Counting Dead Women Australia cite that as of April 29, there have been 27 women killed since the beginning of 2024. Three of those women in the space of 63 days just in my local community.

The centre of attention over the last few months has been a regional town on Wadawurrung Country – Ballarat, Victoria. After three months of grief, anxiety, and distress in our regional town, due to the alleged murders of Rebecca Young, Samantha Murphy and Hannah McGuire, members of the community rallied together and said “Enough is Enough”.

How Ballarat has risen above, taken to the streets and displayed the power and impact of community care, is something the entire continent can draw strength and learn from right now.

Just over a year ago, I was violently attacked in the Ballarat bushlands – something I have been asked about by many in light of recent events. People ask me how all of these alleged murders make me feel. My immediate response is that I believe I survived my attack for a reason; and that reason is to rise and to fight.

It was a Tuesday and I was at the Ballarat Aquatic Centre on an exercise bike when I learnt of the third murder of a woman in our town. I messaged Belinda Coates, a City of Ballarat Councillor and long-time friend and mentor and told her, “I’m gonna do it”. I felt our town needed to rally and stand together condemning violence against women. Together, we decided it needed to happen by Friday, which left us with just two days to organise the event. Looking back now, we didn’t know that this event would go down as one of the biggest rallies Ballarat has ever seen.  

Good Times Photography

When you grow up in regional towns, you always know that the protests are in the city which some, not all, of us travel down to. But for a rally of this size to occur in a regional town really signifies that something is going really wrong. Belinda and I had over 3500 people join our march, shutting down streets and major intersections then packing out the gathering place. This has shown that Ballarat as a community is saying “Enough is Enough”, and if Ballarat can do this, the rest of the country can and should do the same.

The lineup of speakers and performers that we put together in two days was nothing short of incredible. The most powerful moment was having family members and friends of Rebecca Young, Samantha Murphy and Hannah McGuire, one after the other, take to the microphone. Each sharing memories and stories of their loved ones and each calling for an end to men’s violence against women. 

As I MC’d the event that I’d initiated from the exercise bike in the gym and organised from the windowsill in my house (the only place I get phone reception), I felt that feeling in my throat, holding back tears, wondering if this moment was real. How could this moment exist after the start to 2024 one regional town has had? It was a truly special and powerful night, it gave me hope.

It was at that moment that we all learned the answers to ending men’s violence towards women. Those answers don't solely lie in family violence or any government funded services; they actually lie in the act and learnings of community care, in the hands of the individual, and in the shoes of the thousands that chose to take to the streets on that cold Ballarat night.

A lot of people came up to me at the conclusion of the event, thanking me. They thanked me for providing space to heal, to come together and to express our anger and rage, but most importantly, to wrap our arms around the families and friends grieving the loved women in their lives who should still be here. 

Perhaps the most powerful person that approached me at the conclusion of the event was a lady who introduced herself as someone who works at the local morgue.As she wiped away tears she said she didn’t want to see any more women’s bodies come to her place of work whose lives have been taken by men. She and I hugged and she walked away most likely not knowing the profound impact she made on me, and the fire she had just lit in my belly.

If a Blak, Loud, Lesbian can get over 3500 community members onto the streets of a regional town, I have a new found belief that anything can happen if we all lead with love and practice community care.

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