Western Downs Regional Council has partnered with community groups to shine a light on family and domestic violence, with the installation of the symbolic Red Bench in Dalby’s CBD as part of a Red Rose Foundation initiative.

Community and Cultural Development spokeswoman Cr Kaye Maguire said initiatives like the Red Bench Project fostered important conversations in the community, and signalled council’s support for ending domestic and family violence. “It is an unpleasant truth that domestic and family violence occurs in every community – including our own,” Cr Maguire said. “The painting and preparation of the Red Bench was completed by Goondir Health Service’s Big Buddy program, where Big Buddy students lent their time after school and on weekends to sand, paint and decorate the Red Bench.”

Domestic & Family Violence coordinator and Dalby police officer Sgt Anne Johnston said that there is a lot more to the issue than what is shown on the news. “Domestic and family violence is everybody’s business and it’s important we stand together, support victims, and send the clear message that this type of violence is not tolerated in our community,” Sgt Johnston said. “The Red Bench Project seeks to ‘change the ending’, and in so doing, improve the lives of our children and give them a future free of violence.”

Big Buddy program coordinator Charlie Thomas said it is important for the children to be aware of the cause at a young age. “Every time the kids walk past [the bench] they are going to know that they painted it, and be proud of their achievement and the message their hard work is sending in their community,” Ms Thomas said.

The indigenous design on the bench represents a bird’s-eye view of two separate gatherings of people sitting cross-legged. The dotted line that connects the two groups depicts knowledge and communication between the two mobs. The students painted the figures different colours to show that although everyone has their own identity, we can still come together to support each other as one. The handprints are an open invitation to ‘have a yarn’.

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