A peaceful walk to raise awareness of the impact of domestic and family violence in the local community will be held in Cessnock next month.
Cessnock Walks Kawuma (named after the Aboriginal word for 'together') will take place on Wednesday, November 20.
The community is encouraged to wear white and take part in the walk, which will assemble at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre at 10am, leaving at 11am and finishing at the TAFE grounds, where there will be entertainment, food and drink, and information stalls from local service providers.
According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, 296 domestic violence-related assaults were reported in the Cessnock LGA in the 12 months to June 2019 - 1.3 times the state average (which is calculated on a per 100,000 people basis).
Department of Education Aboriginal community liaison officer Sonia Sharpe said the idea behind the event is to raise awareness of the level of domestic violence in Cessnock, and to get help for families who need it.
"There are kids who often don't turn up at school because they are scared of what waits for them when they come home, after witnessing domestic violence," Ms Sharpe said.
"It affects their education, and those cycles are hard to break.
"We want it to be safe for kids to go to school, to get an education and to get a good job."
A Cessnock Domestic and Family Violence Network event, representatives of a number of local agencies have banded together to organise the walk, including Cessnock Family Support Service, Hunter New England Health, the Department of Education, the Cessnock Community and Youth Development Officer, Koe-Nara Schools as Communities, Samaritans Information and Neighbourhood Centre, the Anglican Church and TAFE NSW.
The event is supported by the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network and the Department of Communities and Justice's Cessnock Place Plan Project.
Ms Sharpe thanked all of the services and the dedicated committee for helping the idea come to fruition.
"We have all worked together to make this happen to help our local community," she said.
"If we can help a few families become aware of how they can get help, or help others, we are on our way to reducing domestic and family violence in the Cessnock area."
Cessnock Walks Kawuma is an inclusive event, and all participants will be invited to take the White Ribbon oath (pledging to stand up, speak out and act to prevent men's violence against women).
The organisers hope the walk will be come an annual event, and in future years it will be held during the United Nations' 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign (which runs from November 25 to December 8).
For more information, find 'Cessnock Walks Kawuma' on Facebook.
- If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, phone the Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463.
- If you are in immediate danger, call 000.