Community remembers domestic violence victims with candlelight vigil

May 15, 2024 BY

Keynote speaker Simone O'Brien said family violence was a pandemic.

COMMUNITY members came together last week to light a candle and share a minute’s silence in honour of those who have lost their lives to family violence.

In just four months, more than 25 women have died in gendered violence attacks across the country, average one death every four days.

More than 220 people attended the candlelight vigil at the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre for Domestic Violence Remembrance Day on May 1.

The event also featured an expert panel of speakers who discussed how the community can support those impacted by family violence. Pictured here are Safe and Equal’s Louise Simms, Meli’s family violence manager Kristy Berryman and SAFV Centre’s Linden Deathe.


The event featured an expert panel of specialist speakers, comprised of Geelong Regional Libraries’ Vanessa Schernickau, Safe and Equal’s Louise Simms, Meli’s family violence manager Kristy Berryman and SAFV Centre’s Linden Deathe, who discussed how to community can work together to prevent violence.

Ms Berryman said Meli had seen an increase in men seeking support services.

More than 220 attended the candlelight vigil on May 1.


“We have about 80 per cent of men self-referring and women are also feeling more empowered to seek support,” she said.

The event’s keynote speaker, advocate Simone O’Brien said gendered violence against women was a “pandemic” and called for domestic violence education to be introduced into the school curriculum as early as prep.

Following the vigil, buildings across Geelong, like the Geelong Arts Centre, were illuminated purple in honour of the lives lost to family violence.


“If they see something at home and they think that’s the norm, that’s just going to follow on in their life,” she said.

“We can show what respect is and what domestic violence shouldn’t be in their young minds and bring to light red flags.”

A survivor of domestic violence herself, Ms O’Brien spoke of the abuse she experienced at the hands of a former partner and acknowledged the importance of normalising discussions surrounding family violence.

Attendees were invited to light a candle and share in a minute’s silence for those who had been killed by family violence. Photos: NISH PHOTOGRAPHY


“It’s just got to be like we are going to the football,” she said.

“If I speak up, then someone else will speak up and say, ‘Look, this has happened’, and I find that happens a lot, not only in school but also workplaces.

“Making people feel comfortable to expose their life as well, is a win.”

Following the event, landmarks and buildings across Geelong and the Surf Coast were illuminated purple in honour of those killed by family violence.