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DV memorial bench installed at Warners Bay

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It’s 50 years since Kate Magee became a victim of domestic violence… but, the emotional scars linger on.

“My experience of DV is remarkably similar to those who experience it today,” she said.

“It is just so important to keep this crime in the spotlight.

“Too many women and children have already died and many others are continuing to have their lives destroyed.”

Dr Magee is president of the Zonta Club of Hunter Newcastle, a group whose focus includes “building a better world for women and girls’”

As part of that goal, Zonta has worked with Lake Macquarie City Council to install a domestic violence memorial bench on the Warners Bay foreshore, officially opened on Friday 31 May by mayor Kay Fraser and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison.

Dr Magee said the bench was intended to be a long-term, tangible reminder of domestic violence in the Lake Macquarie community.

“We hope it gives courage and strength to victims, and that others who see it are reminded that gendered violence is horrendous crime within our society, and we must do everything to prevent it,” she said.

Addressing domestic violence has become an increasingly urgent issue in recent months, with a disturbing uptick in the number of serious, and often tragic, incidents nationwide.

Cr Fraser said crime statistics showed there were almost 3300 incidences of domestic assault reported across the five Lower Hunter LGAs in 2023 – equal to more than nine each day.

“DV impacts the lives of so many people in our region, and this bench offers a space to stop and reflect, then stand up, speak up and act to end violence,” she said.

“This is an issue that is everyone’s business and we all need to play a role. It’s not just up to the victim to seek support, or the perpetrator to stop the hurt – it is up to everyone in the community to speak out, help those who turn to us and get educated about what we can do.”

Ms Harrison acknowledged the work Zonta Club had done to raise awareness of, and address, domestic and family violence in the community.

“The NSW Government is taking meaningful action to address this violence we are seeing increasingly in our communities. We have for too long focused on a crisis response and we are now committed to preventing violence before it starts,” she said.

“We are working in partnership with sector and community stakeholders like Zonta to make sure our responses are tailored to each community.”

Meanwhile, Council has also partnered with charity DV Safe Phone to provide collection boxes in three libraries – Charlestown, Swansea and Toronto – where people can drop off their old mobile phones.

The phones are repaired and provided to people experiencing domestic violence, if they find themselves without one, or if theirs is being tracked. Residents can find their local provider by visiting the H.A.L.T Map Project.

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