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March4Justice: one year on

As the one year anniversary of March4Justice approaches, a movement sparked by Brittany Higgins following allegations of systemic sexual assault and harassment at Parliament House, Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch is reflecting on the Gosford event.

8 March 2022

 

IN 2021 as cities across Australia marched in unity for justice, Ms Tesch organised a local rally which saw hundreds gather and march throughout Gosford, aiming to send a message to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and governments across Australia that the community was tired of inaction on sexism and sexual abuse justice.

 

Ms. Tesch says the dozens of marches held across Australia certainly did send a message to the Prime Minister.

 

“Last year women from all walks of life in our community came forward to march for the same cause. It was an event that resonated with so many,” said Ms. Tesch.

 

“One of the most impactful conversations I had that day was with a 76 year old member of our community who had participated in the event to protest for the injustice she suffered at the hands of men. That day for the first time in her life she participated in a protest, representing not only herself but also her granddaughter who had experienced sexual violence at the hands of a man as well.

 

“It was stories like this that reflected just how widespread this issue is and how overdue our actions were.”

 

There is still a long way to go for Australia with NSW alone recording sexual assault reports rising 30 per cent in the last three years.

 

For the Central Coast the figures are confronting, with sexual assault reports jumping from 276 sexual assault reports in 2019 to 391 in 2021. The Central Coast also recorded the highest number of assaults when compared to other NSW local Government areas between January and September.

 

Ms. Tesch says this reality is hard to comprehend.

 

“This is a devastating result for the Central Coast and I cannot begin to imagine the trauma so many local women are carrying with them every day,” she said.

 

“It goes to show why we all, here on the Central Coast and Australia-wide need to fight for justice and have tangible action by our leaders, not just meaningless words.”

 

Local gender-equality activist and school student, Phoebe Sheridan spoke at the March4Justice last year and said “The nationwide march for justice movement helped raise significant awareness for gender in a quality especially for women. The Central Coast March grew a crowd of 500 with only a few days’ notice highlighting the passion from people in our local area in regards to advocating for change.”

 

“One year later people are still burning with passion, I’ve received multiple messages asking about the next Central Coast March4Justice and what they can do to help make a difference.

 

“Although there hasn’t been an instantaneous culture shift the awareness of the issue of consent with the recent passing of the consent education act and a general gain in recognition of the issue highlights the positive affect of march for justice and the Australian of the year Grace Tame and the brave courageous women who have stood up and spoken about their stories.

 

“Having the opportunity to be a key note speaker at the Central Coast March4Justice was such an honour as I was able to represent a myriad of young people who are facing gender discrimination and sexual assault.

 

“The plethora of girls in my school alone that have suffered from this is substantial and our voices deserve a chance to be heard, which they were at last year’s March4Justice. Alongside grandmothers, fathers, mothers, children, other students.

 

“I’m so appreciative to have collaborated with a range of women in speaking at the event last year and I’m talking/chanting/marching with such a loud crowd - it was truly inspirational.

 

“With the number of people still talking about the event one year later, it clearly highlight its effect and the need for events like it where people of the Central Coast can express their passion together as a community and to work towards change.”

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