POWERFUL MESSAGE: Respect Tree reminds all that preventing family violence is everyone's responsibility.
POWERFUL MESSAGE: Respect Tree reminds all that preventing family violence is everyone's responsibility. Contributed ROK260619respect3

OPINION: Yeppoon art exhibit teaches respect

AFTER moving to the Capricorn Coast from NSW I was impressed by the friendliness of the locals; and the large number of talented artists, musicians and theatrical people living in CQ. I was also relieved to discover just how many people care for the environment here; despite being told several times in NSW that Queenslanders were a bunch of ignorant rednecks.

How about that for an incentive to thrash them in the final game of the State of Origin series?

In the last couple of years, I've also been heartened to see the community involvement in the fight against domestic violence; it is one of the most insidious crimes.

We had a White Ribbon photo exhibition on Yeppoon seafront in 2016, organised by active community volunteer Lou Shipway and featuring local men speaking out against this despicable act.

In May this year, staff and students from St Brendan's College held their third annual Walk Against Domestic Violence along the streets and beach of Yeppoon to promote the Not Now, Not Ever message.

On May 30, Livingstone Shire Council held a 5km walk/run along the seafront starting and ending at the new lagoon in support of the Darkness to Daylight Challenge, an event that aims to increase awareness of domestic and family violence, symbolising those lives lost and the ones left behind. The latest council initiative is the launching of the Respect Tree, a concept about promoting "Respect for Yourself, Your Community and Your Environment”.

The project comprises a planted pandanus tree enclosed by a sandstone seating area that provides a reflection space.

School children and other community members have embedded their handprints into the concrete around the base of the tree and out to the adjoining footpath, as a symbol of respect.

There is a world map at the installation, to reflect our multicultural community, as well as numerous respect words that are shown in English, Indigenous and South Sea Islander languages. The installation is a reminder to us all that preventing family violence is everyone's responsibility.

Visitors will be able to access further information on the project via a QR code located at the site.

The Respect Tree is situated adjacent to beach access FB4 on Farnborough Rd, at the Yeppoon end of the Beachside Caravan Park.

The project has been a collaboration between State Government, Livingstone Shire Council, Ground Art Landscaping and 25 local businesses that donated goods and services to complete the Reflection Space.

It's a sad fact that family violence is widespread and affects all sectors of the community.

Having been raised in a loving family, and taught to respect others, especially women, I thankfully never experienced it. Unfortunately, as I have gotten older I have seen some tragic examples. Some might wonder how an art exhibit can help; but if we can teach the younger generations about respect we can go a long way towards eliminating this cancer in society.

- Malcolm Wells



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