A community walk will be held on the Peninsula this month to raise awareness of sexual violence.
Locals are invited to show support for survivors on April 30 with a walk along the beach from Umina Surf Lifesaving Club to Ettalong Beach on April 30, wearing teal, blue or green colours in solidarity.
Author of I Want To Go Home: Reclaiming Power After Sexual Assault, Renee Marie Simpson said she, along with friends, organised the event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
She said it was an opportunity to highlight sexual assault and its impacts, on the 20th anniversary of the initiative.
“I’m hoping to inspire a positive, proactive conversation about what community members to can do to stop the cycle of abuse,” Simpson said.
“And I hope this conversation will have a ripple effect that will contribute to changing attitudes to better support survivors to find their voices.
“Most people are still very uncomfortable talking about sexual assault for many reasons – mostly because everyone knows someone who has experienced lifelong impacts because of it.
“No one wants to see their loved ones suffering and it’s hard to talk about that – [and] it’s even harder when it has happened to you, and you are living with those impacts every day.
“But we need to be brave and start facing the facts that … this behaviour needs to stop and we all have to do our part to stop it. Enough is enough.”
The event will feature talks from two guest speakers.
Simpson said she wanted to honour the efforts of advocates who had brought this issue into a national conversation.
“We have had many strong women lead the way advocating for change with the MeToo movement creating global awareness and inviting women to raise their hand if they had been a victim of sexual abuse, and this issue became very personal overnight,” Simpson said.
“Over the last few years, we have seen brave women like Grace Tame, Nina Furnell, Chantel Contos and Brittany Higgins invite survivors to raise their voices collectively to call out and change the systems and attitudes that perpetuate the cycle of sexual violence and calling for reforms in government, education, the justice system, support services, communities and families.
“It’s important to continue the conversation to create safer communities for everyone.”
Simpson encouraged anyone who cannot attend the event to donate to the Central Coast Community Women’s Health Centre, which supports female survivors of sexual abuse.
“As a strong and supportive community, Central Coast, let’s ‘open the door to sharing, caring and healing,” she said.
“You can do that by clicking on the ‘donate’ button in the top right corner on the page at cccwhc.com.au/about-cccwhc.”
The event starts at 9am with the walk from 9.30am to 11am.
If you have been affected by sexual assault, you can get support from the NSW Sexual Violence Helpline (1800 424 017), or visit NSW Health Sexual Assault Services.