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Red Benches spread message of domestic violence prevention throughout the Western Downs

Western Downs Regional Council has partnered with charities and community groups to place a brightly painted red bench in Chinchilla with the aim of spreading knowledge and awareness of domestic and family violence.

The Chinchilla Red Bench is the second in the Western Downs, following the unveiling of a Red Bench outside of the Dalby Court House in November 2021.

An initiative of the Red Rose Foundation, the aim is to have the bright red benches placed in prominent public locations throughout the state to draw attention to domestic and family violence.

Council Spokesperson for Community and Cultural Development, Councillor Kaye Maguire, stated that while domestic violence is an ugly reality for many people, raising awareness is an important first step to tackling it in our backyard.

“Domestic and family violence is something which takes place behind closed doors, so it is not often openly discussed. The Dalby Red Bench continues to be a feature and talking point for the community, so we knew that it was important to continue spreading the message by installing further Red Benches throughout the region,” Cr Maguire said.

“In the Western Downs ‘it’s the people that make it’, and this new Red Bench outside the Chinchilla Police Station is a visible symbol of our support for victims. Council is proud to join our fantastic community groups and charities to continue fighting the prevalence of domestic and family violence in our communities.”

Goondir’s Big Buddy Program were again eager to participate, with students from Chinchilla jumping at the chance to sand, paint and decorate the new bench as their Dalby-based companions did in 2021.

Chinchilla Big Buddy Program Coordinator, Billie Brassington, said that the experience for the children was invaluable, and they were excited to be involved.

“Big Buddy supports indigenous youth in building healthy communities and creating positive social and educational experiences. Our students learned so much from being involved in the Red Bench Project – teamwork, project management and woodworking skills among others. Most importantly, they came away with a wealth of knowledge, confidence, and a new-found understanding of the severity of domestic violence within our communities.” Ms Brassington said.

“The kids could not be prouder of the finished product they unveiled. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces!”

Senior Police Liaison Officer Robyn Jennings understands the impact of domestic violence in our community more than most. She sees a side of this issue most don’t and believes that initiatives like the Red Bench Project are crucial to ending the cycle.

“Domestic violence has long been a subject that people only talk about when there is a tragedy. Projects like the Red Bench send a message that the whole community is committed to ending domestic violence and give people the courage to speak up against domestic violence,” PLO Jennings said.

“I think it is imperative that our youth are involved in these projects. These are the leaders of tomorrow, and their participation in projects like this gives them a broader understanding and invaluable knowledge to disperse to others”

“I’d also like to commend all of the businesses and organisations that took part in Domestic and Family Violence Month. Chinchilla Police were absolutely overwhelmed with donations and support that will allow us to further aid our community groups who support domestic violence survivors.”

Our region’s newest Red Bench can be found on the Chinchilla Police Station Lawns in Heeney Street. The hand-painted indigenous design, created by the students at Big Buddy, is titled “The Journey to Healing”. The artwork tells the story of a person reaching out for help and support, the strength of community and family, and the importance of their role in the process of healing. The significance of being on country is expressed through the depiction of animal tracks, waterholes and the local totem of the carpet snake. Another important method of healing in aboriginal culture is music and dance, which has been incorporated through clapsticks and a didgeridoo. The circles represent positive thoughts, encouraging viewers to stay on track and keep their positive energy.

Further Red Benches are planned for Miles and Tara in the near future. To find out more about The Red Bench Project visit https://www.redrosefoundation.com.au/

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Media Contact: Western Downs Regional Council Media Office 07 4679 4265