LILY NOLAN AND STAFF WRITERS
The Gold Coast’s Mudgeeraba Rotary Park has become the newest recipient of a brightly painted red bench as part of the Red Bench Project, which aims to start an important dialogue about domestic violence.
The initiative, run by the Red Rose Foundation, aims to shine a light on domestic violence and to encourage community conversation.
The Red Rose Foundation is a national not-for-profit charity that works to eliminate domestic and family violence related deaths, aiming to ‘change the ending’ of these events that are largely considered to be preventable.
The Mudgeeraba bench is the second of its kind on the Gold Coast, but the foundation is determined to scatter red benches around the city.
The Red Rose Foundation painted its first red bench in May 2019 in Cleveland and since then has painted more than 40 benches, with many benches in Brisbane and the South East.
The project has even reached beyond the bigger cities, with a bench in Cunnamulla in South West Queensland, another in Rockhampton, and one in Bathurst in New South Wales.
Some of the benches included in the project are old benches that are given a new lease of life with a fresh coast of red paint, while others are specifically installed as part of the initiative.
But according to the Red Rose Foundation, what each red bench has in common is that it serves as a permanent reminder to passers-by that domestic violence is an important issue every community needs to be talking about.
The Gold Coast has welcomed its second red bench as part of the Red Bench Project designed to spark conversations about domestic violence in the community.
Red Rose Foundation CEO Betty Taylor said the Red Bench symbol made a bold statement while also remaining cost-effective.
“We’re a not-for-profit foundation that doesn’t receive government funding for our core work, which is working with survivors of nonlethal strangulation mostly, but really all victims of domestic violence,” Ms Taylor said.
“We wanted to start engaging local government so that it would be easier to use some part of community structure such as a bench in a park and around council buildings and libraries,” she said.
The foundation has already made plans to have 162 more red benches appear around Queensland, in council areas such as libraries, schools, hospitals, and parks.
“The one we’ve painted in Mudgeeraba has the support of the Gold Coast City Council, and we welcome that support wherever we find it,” Ms Taylor said.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he believed the Red Bench project was an important symbol for the Gold Coast community to be actively aware of domestic violence.
“This bench signifies the City’s support for projects which shine a light on important issues such as domestic and family violence,” Mayor Tate said in a statement.
“The idea of having the bright red bench in a public park is to stop people in their tracks – and inspire a conversation about this important issue,” he said.
“By starting a conversation as a community, we can help change the ending to domestic and family violence.”
In Australia, one in four women and one in nineteen men have experienced physical abuse from their past or current partners, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
A report by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that, on average, one woman per week is murdered at the hands of her former or current partner.
These statistics are the reason the Red Rose Foundation and local government bodies are determined to encourage the Gold Coast community to start a dialogue.
LNP Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates is a big supporter of the Red Rose Foundation and the Red Bench Project as she pushes for domestic violence prevention within the local government.
“As a survivor of domestic violence, I’m proud to represent the LNP for this important cause in my electorate of Mudgeeraba,” Ms Bates said in a statement.
“The LNP is committed to deliver a comprehensive domestic violence plan to protect victims, punish offenders and keep Queensland communities safe,” she said.
“More needs to be done to stamp out this abhorrent behaviour and support victims and their families.”
Betty Taylor is optimistic about the future that these benches will bring for the prevention of domestic violence locally and nationally, by encouraging important dialogue about the issue.
“The next stage is the conversations people can have in and around the red bench,” she said.
“We need to start having a lot more community conversations about how we can change the ending, and how people can be involved in that.”
To find out more or to donate to the Red Rose foundation, visit their website.