The City of Canning has put four purple park benches in Perth’s southern suburbs to show its support for the worldwide domestic and family violence awareness movement.
The benches in Willetton and Bentley are four of an anticipated 45 benches to be installed across WA.
Rostrata Family and Neighbourhood Centre manager Dianne Graves said the two benches outside the centre encouraged conversation about something the society had neglected in the past.
“It’s about having a visible thing to talk about. It promotes that discussion. It was important for us to get involved,” she said.
Ms Graves said victims of family and domestic violence tended to feel isolated and the benches and the helpline plaques on them encouraged people to take the necessary steps to leave their situation.
“If you can actually get them to come through the door and tell them that this is a safe space for them to come, then you can often connect them to the right service and to the right people or you can get them involved in a program where they may start to feel differently about themselves and gain the strength to do something to get support or advice,” she said.
Zonta House Refuge Association chief executive Kelda Oppermann said a community response was required because family and domestic violence was a societal issue.
“It includes community groups, organisations, local government, the State Government and the Federal Government working together to take responsibility and provide funding to actually have an impact across the spectrum.
“Until we have comprehensive funding across those spheres, we won’t make an actual difference to the issue,” she said.
Ms Oppermann said the presence of a purple bench invited people to commemorate those who had lost their lives to family and domestic violence while raising awareness.
“It is about having a place to pay respects, but also to recognise the significance of the number of women and children and men who die because of family and domestic violence every year,” she said.
Domestic Violence Legal Clinic founder at Mossessons Lawyers Shirley McMurdo said the presence of the benches in parks was an important step to increasing community awareness on the issue.
“When people are in a park and they notice a purple bench, they will be curious to know what it’s all about and they will then understand that it actually is a way of highlighting domestic violence as a current issue,” she said.
“The colour purple is well known as the colour that actually represents domestic violence.”
Ms McMurdo said victims often sought help only after suffering a lot of abuse.
“The statistics say that women will leave their husbands seven times before they make the final decision to leave,” she said.
“The issue of domestic violence is so complex and so prevalent in today’s society that the government can always do much more.”
Ms Oppermann said Zonta House Refuge had a future employment connections program and worked with women exiting prison because a high number of them had experienced family and domestic violence.
The Purple Bench Project was created in Canada to honour the 25-year anniversary of the murder of Barb Baillie by her husband.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support victims of family and domestic violence.
Crisis Care is also open 24-7 for anyone in crisis needing urgent help (08) 9233 1111.