Red benches symbols of support

St Joseph’s school captain Brigid O’Dea, Councillor Sarah Deane, Mayor Melissa Hamilton and St Joseph’s school captain Annaliese McCosker seated on the red bench at St Joseph’s Parish in Stanthorpe. Picture: SUPPLIED

Red benches have been installed in Warwick and Stanthorpe as “a message of support” for domestic and family violence survivors.

The benches were installed by the Southern Downs council in support of the Red Bench Project, a national campaign run by the Red Rose Foundation which encourages the installation of red benches as permanent reminders that domestic violence occurs within all communities.

They can be found in four locations across the Southern Downs at St Mark’s Church and Federation Park in Warwick and at St Joseph’s Parish and Kilpa Park in Stanthorpe.

It comes during Queensland’s Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month, held annually in May to raise awareness and condemn acts of domestic violence. This year’s theme is coercive control.

Southern Downs Mayor Melissa Hamilton said she hoped to see more red benches spread throughout the region in future.

“May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month and I am proud to take a seat to take a stand,” Mayor Hamilton said.

“The Red Bench Project is a simple concept to raise awareness, start conversations and join with people at red benches across Australia to call for an end to domestic violence-related deaths,” she said.

“It is so important to learn how to be a proactive bystander, without judgment, so that we can help people to reach out for the help that they need and by doing so to change the ending.

“The Southern Downs has four red benches and I would love to see more across all of our towns to send a message of support to survivors and advocates.”

Southern Downs Councillor Sarah Deane said the benches would help raise “public awareness of the social and personal impacts of domestic violence and hopefully takes us another step towards creating a safer and more equitable society”.

Councillor Deane called on residents to amplify the mission of the Red Bench Project during May.

“Together, let’s promote empathy and understanding as we work towards a community where families feel safe and supported,” she said.

“On the Southern Downs, we are taking a seat to take a stand.”