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Domestic violence survivor’s vision for monument to victims enters consultation phase

86-year old Helen Oxenham has long fought for a monument to honour domestic violence victims and recognize her sacrifice, and with a public consultation survey launched on July 29, her vision is getting closer to reality.

In partnership with Relationships Australia and with the support of Arts SA, Spirit of Woman has designed a consultation process seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders and individuals.

When Helen was a child in in Ireland, she witnessed her father’s abuse of her mother time and again. And she did not leave this behind as she emigrated to Adelaide, creating a safe haven and women’s shelter in Christies Beach in the 1970s. Now retired, Helen continues to work tirelessly to provide comfort and support women and children who do not have a voice.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to hear the stories and listen to how people feel about how domestic violence has affected them either as children, or as a partner, our collective voice will stop the shame and blame of this epidemic crime,” Helen said.

“It happens in many families, in any suburb, it’s just that everyone is ashamed to talk about it. Together we can stop this and speak out as we are not alone.

“This project is to set up a respectful place that commemorates the loss of life, of livelihood, of home, of friends and community. A memorial is a physical representation to acknowledge and appreciate our enduring community spirit. “

Helen believes will not only remember the sacrifices, but also help give hope and support to those still enduring violence from a loved one.

“The monument will also be a focal point for society to face up to this ugly truth and provide an avenue for sharing and healing in a bid to end this type of aggression,” she said.

The process starts with a 12-week survey to gather input on a public space dedicated to victims of domestic and family violence. Interested members of the public, and experts from the sector, are encouraged to participate in the consultation process to help inform the formation and implementation of the space.

Following the consultation process, there will be a public community forum to discuss the findings report.

According to Kathleen Connellan, PhD Design History and Theory, University of South Australiaa “An aesthetically and sensitively designed memorial to The Spirit of Woman that raises consciousness within communities and cultures, will provide a tangible enduring space for psychological healing. Art, in a safe and beautiful space has the power to combine aspirations in a spirit of solidarity”.

The survey can be accessed at  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/spiritofwoman

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