Home » Mater’s Red Bench signals safety for domestic violence victims

Mater’s Red Bench signals safety for domestic violence victims

Guy Hazlewood    July 3, 2024    3 min read   

Mater Private Hospital Springfield has unveiled a newly painted red bench, intended as a symbol of safety and support for victims in a gesture of solidarity against domestic violence, 

The initiative, celebrated on Friday, May 31, saw the collaboration of Mater Private Hospital Springfield General Manager Suzanne Hawksley, Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding, and representatives from the Queensland Police.

red bench
Mayor of Ipswich Ms Teresa Harding, The Red Rose Foundation CEO Dr Brian Sullivan and Mater Private Hospital Springfield General Manager Suzanne Hawksley. Source: Mater Hospital

The red bench, located at Mater Private Hospital Springfield, is more than just a piece of furniture.

It serves as a visible signal to victims of domestic violence that they can find a safe space and support within the hospital’s walls.

This symbolic gesture aims to encourage victims to disclose their experiences and seek help from Mater clinicians.

The significance of this initiative is underscored by the alarming statistics reported by Queensland Police, who received over 140,000 domestic and family violence (DFV) related calls last year.

For many frontline officers, responding to such incidents has become a daily occurrence.

Jacque Lachmund, a survivor of domestic and family violence from Caboolture, shared her personal story to highlight the importance of initiatives like the red bench.

Jacque endured eight years of abuse before she felt able to reach out for help.

Reflecting on her journey, she emphasised the critical role of community awareness and conversation in addressing domestic violence.

“I put up with being abused for eight years before I spoke to someone,” Jacque said.

“Now, we are having conversations about domestic violence. What it means to me as a survivor is that I didn’t know my community cared. Now it’s visible, and we have the opportunity to create conversations.”

Jacque, who now runs her own DFV consulting business, stressed the long process of healing and recovery for victims.

She believes that the red bench at Mater Private Hospital Springfield will catalyse change, helping many patients on their journey to recovery.

Mater’s domestic and family violence specialist project officer Rebecca Latham, highlighted the broader impact of domestic violence on community health services.

“Improving awareness of DFV at Mater can positively impact thousands of health consumers and their dependents,” Rebecca said.

She noted that Mater staff have been trained to recognise, support, and refer victims appropriately, ensuring comprehensive care across the hospital’s various departments.

The Red Bench initiative is part of a larger Mater-wide project, Addressing Domestic Abuse, which is funded by community donations to the Mater Foundation.

This project includes DFV education and training for Mater staff and patients, aimed at raising organisational awareness and enhancing support for victims.

Launched by Red Rose Foundation CEO Betty Taylor, the Red Bench project has seen the installation of over 400 red benches across Australia.

Each bench features a QR code that links to resources and support services, providing immediate access to help for those in need.

red bench
Mater domestic and family violence specialist project officer Rebecca Latham. Photo by Renae Droop. Source: Mater Hospital 

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Guy Hazlewood