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WWYW set to stage inaugural Stand Still Protest

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Newcastle will play host to a Stand Still Protest, the first of its kind, at the Merewether Baths this weekend.

What Were You Wearing (WWYW) is taking the unique stance, from 4.30pm on Saturday 20 May, to highlight its quest to end domestic and sexual violence.

The not-for-profit organisation hopes the peaceful rally shines a light on the vital issue, which continues to rear its ugly head in the Hunter.

Also appearing at the event will be several distinguished speakers, discussing important topics such as Indigenous rights, social injustice, the LGBTQIA+ community and people living with disabilities.

“As opposed to typical protests, ours is at the one place – Mereweather Baths,” WWYW founder Sarah Williams said.

“We’ll be chanting on the spot and hearing from some very special presenters.

A What Were You Wearing team member jumps into the Merewether Baths.

“At the end, we will collectively jump in the water in our clothes, coming together as one, and signifying that we’re releasing our troubles.”

Survivors attending the protest are encouraged to bring a sign showing what they were wearing or, if you are a supporter, to wear orange.

“This isn’t the first protest we’ve held, and it’s not the last one we’re going to hold unfortunately,” Ms Williams said.

“But, we won’t let our voices go unheard.

“We stand in solidarity with all survivors of domestic and sexual violence… and we won’t stop until change is made.

“We’re urging everyone to be there, whether you are a survivor or supporter.

“The baths are accessible through stairs or ramp.

“If you can’t swim, or don’t feel comfortable getting into the water, we encourage you to throw your sign in the water – which will get cleaned by the team at the end of the event.”

The What Were You Wearing team.

Meanwhile, time is running out to sign WWYW’s petition, calling for mandatory spiking and sexual violence training for security and bar staff in all licensed venues in NSW.

So far, almost 15,000 people have put pen to paper.

The What Were You Wearing proposal requires all security and bar staff to undergo mandatory training on spiking and sexual violence prevention, response and reporting.

The petition, which needs 20,000 signatures in order to be debated by legislative assembly, ends on 25 May.

And, if successful, the WWYW initiative would be developed in consultation with industry stakeholders, survivors or sexual violence and experts in the field.

“Such programs are essential for ensuring the safety of patrons in licensed venues,” Ms Williams said.

“The traction on the petition so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’re really thankful for everyone who has signed it.

“From local venues to influencers, local MPs and the media, the community has been incredibly helpful.

“We still have a long way to go over the coming week, however we’re fighting hard and hoping we see some positive change soon.”

According to Australia’s National Research Organisation, one-in-five women have experienced sexual violence in licensed venues.

These incidents not only have a devastating impact on the individuals involved, but also have wider implications for public safety and community wellbeing.

For further details, visit

https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/la/Pages/ePetition- details.aspx?q=_HMK9UeTSz9gbyVeejZTJg.

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