Reclaim the Night marches, run events in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie

Meighan Jenkins and Roz Smee (back, from left) from the Newcastle Domestic Violence Committee with Reanna Cunningham and Chloe Hope (front, from left) from Carries Place and Louise Hawkins, also from the Newcastle DV committee, at Gregson Park, Hamilton.
Meighan Jenkins and Roz Smee (back, from left) from the Newcastle Domestic Violence Committee with Reanna Cunningham and Chloe Hope (front, from left) from Carries Place and Louise Hawkins, also from the Newcastle DV committee, at Gregson Park, Hamilton.

Hundreds of people from the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie community are expected to turn out to Reclaim the Night events next Friday to take a stand on violence against women and children.

Newcastle's domestic violence and Reclaim the Night committees have coordinated marches in Hamilton, Warners Bay and Lorn on October 25 to sound the alarm on Australia's startling domestic violence-related death toll, the rate of assaults against women in the Hunter region and to advocate for a community where women can go about their lives safely.

Across Australia, 44 women have lost their lives through violence this year. Sixty-three Australian women were killed by violence in 2018.

So far in 2019, the Newcastle Sexual Assault Service has helped 125 women and children from across the Hunter in crisis and had received 548 inquires from women in Newcastle for sexual assault.

"These shocking statistics do not tell us the whole story," a spokesperson for the Newcastle Reclaim the Night committee said.

"Women who have survived acts of violence are at an increased risk of homelessness, depression, anxiety, and financial stress.

"The social and emotional well-being of children is also significantly impacted by family violence.

"By holding these events, we hope that in years to come we find ourselves in a community where we don't have these horrific statistics to march against."

The Nightstriders will hold a Reclaim the Run event in Gregson Park on October 25, alongside the Hamilton march.

The social running group is now made up of more than 500 women from Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, but it was founded by a group of mums who could not run during the day because of their childcare responsibilities but were too scared to run alone in the evening.

"The levels of violence against women in this country are still unacceptable," said Nighterstriders member and Reclaim the Run organiser Mel Nunn.

"There have been 44 women killed already this year in Australia. Assaults, rapes and intimidation are on top of that.

"There are complex cultural reasons for this, reasons why people (usually men) think it is acceptable to be violent towards women, and we accept that this is a tricky issue to solve.

"But that is what we are calling for - more funding and more concerted attempts to change attitudes and behaviours."

Reclaim the Run will be held in Gregson Park from 6pm on Friday, October 25.

All women are invited to join the event, which is a gentle run. There is no need to register.

The Reclaim the Night march in Gregson Park is for women only. However, children and men are welcome to attend to show their support and participate in the pre- and post-march speeches and entertainment.

There will be food and service stalls available in the park. The event will wrap up about 8pm. Attendees are asked to gather in the park from 5.30pm. The march will begin at 6.30pm.

The march, which was last year held on Newcastle's foreshore, is sponsored by City of Newcastle.

About 200 women turned out to march last year, including Newcastle's Rachel Bond.

Ms Bond said she marched for the women murdered in 2018, her friend who was too scared to march due to violence, the one in three women who will be raped or beaten within her lifetime, as well as her right to be safe.

"People get attacked by sharks and men punch each other outside nightclubs and they receive more attention than the one woman who is murdered each week [by her current or former partner]," Ms Bond said at last year's march.

The Lake Macquarie march will be staged on the The Esplanade in Warners Bay. Attendees are asked to gather from 6pm for a 6.30pm start.

A march will also be held at the Seat Of Remembrance at the park by the river in Lorn from 5.30pm on October 25.