L to R:  Nazik Nasser, North Richmond Community Health, Jenny Fong, social work student on placement at North Richmond Community Health; Hieng Lim and Maree Foelz, NJC

 

There’s a poignancy to the row of hand-painted t-shirts hanging in the foyer of the Neighbourhood Justice Centre.

 

Each white tee is emblazoned with a woman’s hand painted declaration for violence against women to stop, the urgency of the demand clear in each bold brushstroke.

 

Our Centre is displaying the t-shirts as part of our contribution the international Clothesline Project, which in turn was part of our regional contribution to the recent Week Without Violence.

 

This as with past years, our Family Violence Partnerships Coordinator Maree Foelz joined women at various community locations dotted around the City of Yarra to create t-shirts for the Clothesline Project exhibition.

 

“This project gives women a voice. Women decorate their t-shirts any way they wish to express their demands that violence, of any kind—physical, psychological, and financial—stops.

 

The Clothesline Project is an international movement shining a light on the scale and effects of violence against women. It gives women, and particularly survivors of violence, a way to celebrate women’s strength, and find the support and courage to break their silence.

 

Our Centre has been part of this project for many years. It gives staff like Maree a low-key but effective way to get to meet women in our community, and the t-shirts act as educational tools to get across important messages.

 

Maree Foelz also says the t-shirts remind women they’re not alone.

 

“Each t-shirt we display signals to women who come into our Centre and who’re still suffering in silence to understand they’re not alone,” she says.

 

The women’s hand-painted messages resonate with everyone who works at the NJC.

 

Every week our Magistrate, legal teams and social services assist the 1 in 3 women who experience physical violence since the age of 15, and the 1 in 5 women who experienced sexual violence.  

 

We support young women, pregnant women, women separating from their partners, Indigenous women, women with disability, women experiencing financial hardships subjected to physical, psychologic and financial abuse.

 

And every week we work with men to put them on the pathway to what must be, a journey of a lifetime.

 

The Clotheslines Project t-shirts will be incorporated into our forthcoming community art exhibition, Urban Campfire.

 

If you’re in the building, take a photo of the t-shirts and help spread the message.