BCYF & Bethany have merged! Our two like-minded not-for-profit organisations are now Meli. Learn more

Candlelight vigil honours lives taken by family violence

More than 220 people gathered to honour and remember those whose lives were taken by family violence, and to have important conversations about taking action against what is a tragic issue facing Australia and our community.

The Geelong Candlelight Vigil, hosted by Meli and the Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre on Wednesday May 1, brought the community together during what keynote speaker, advocate and survivor Simone O’Brien said is a “pandemic” our society was facing.

Advocate and survivor Simone O’Brien at the Geelong Candlelight Vigil on May 1.

Ms O’Brien spoke to a full room at the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre about her experience of emotional, psychological and physical abuse at the hands of a former partner, and about what needs to be done to combat this kind of violence.

“We need to get it (domestic violence education) in our school curriculum to start as young as preppies,” she said.

“If they see something at home and they think that’s the norm, that’s just going to follow on in their life.

“We can show what respect is and what domestic violence shouldn’t be in their young minds and bring to light red flags.”

Ms O’Brien said it was important to continue to have discussions such as the one at the Candlelight Vigil.

“If I speak up, then someone else will speak up and say look this has happened, and I find that happens a lot not only in school but also workplaces,” she said.

“Making people feel comfortable to expose their life as well is a win.

“We just have to make it (domestic violence) not a taboo of discussion, it’s just got to be like we are going to the football,” she said.

The forum also included a panel with Geelong Regional Libraries’ Vanessa Schernickau, Safe and Equal’s Louise Simms, Meli’s Family Violence Manager Kristy Berryman and SAFV Centre’s Linden Deathe.

MC Kylie Oliver, Vanessa Schernickau, Louise Simms, Kristy Berryman and Linden Deathe.

Ms Berryman spoke about the increase in men seeking support services.

“We have about 80 per cent of men self-referring and women are also feeling more empowered to seek support,” Ms Berryman said.

The event concluded with a minute of silence for those whose lives had been taken by family violence.

On Wednesday evening, buildings and landmarks across Geelong, Wimmera and South West were illuminated purple to remember those killed by family violence, to honour their memories and help bring light to this national crisis.

Quick Exit Skip to content