FEELING SAFE: Nurse Stephanie Ireland and manager at Warrina Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services Charlotte Young, organisers of the Reclaim the Park event.
FEELING SAFE: Nurse Stephanie Ireland and manager at Warrina Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services Charlotte Young, organisers of the Reclaim the Park event. Contributed

Coffs women ready to reclaim the park

THE NATION was left shaken by the murders of Qi Yu and Eurydice Dixon last month and while vigils were held in major cities, the impact of the shocking deaths is undeniably being felt in Coffs.

Qi Yu was allegedly murdered at the hands of her 19-year-old male housemate in Sydney, and days later Eurydice Dixon was allegedly raped and killed by 19-year-old Jaymes Todd at a Melbourne park.

The horrific crimes sparked an uproar about attitudes towards women and the right for women to feel safe while walking home.

In a bid to begin the conversation in Coffs Harbour, local nurse Stephanie Ireland has teamed up with Warrina Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services to hold an event this weekend - Reclaim the Park.

"Working in health we see people affected by DV a lot,” Ms Ireland said.

"I was saying goodbye to my parents when visiting them in Sydney recently, and they expressed a lot of concern about my safety because of the deaths that happened that week.

"Reading up on the news I got quite upset on behalf of people everywhere that have been affected by violence, and how it seems to be so common yet it's a taboo subject to bring up.

"I wanted to create something local and start discussing the important issue. It's a conversation we need to be having all the time.”

The event will feature a number of speakers who have been touched by DV, and will also promote services available.

"If you speak to most women about walking home alone in a park we all have similar feelings, we'll be filled with fear. The park symbolises a space where women don't feel safe and it's about changing that and making people aware this isn't something we should accept.

"We're always thinking about our safety, it's normal. But it's indicative of how violent our society is.”

Cash donations, toiletries, pegs, cleaning products, tea towels and canned food donations to Warrina will be accepted.

Managed by Coffs Woman of the Year 2016 Charlotte Young, Warrina supports women and children escaping violence through their refuge, court advocacy service and resource centre.

Reclaim the Park will be held Saturday 10.30am to 12.30pm at Brelsford Park.



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