MORE than 250 people gathered at the Gippsland Performing Arts Centre on Domestic Violence Remembrance Day (May 1) for a candlelight vigil reflecting and standing in solidarity with victims of domestic and family violence.

Hundreds of lit candles adorned GPAC to represent the women and children lost to family and domestic violence in Australia, visualising this widespread issue across local communities.

The vigil comes at a time where thousands of women across Australia took to the streets to rally against the deaths of dozens of Australian women at the hands of gender-based violence.

Full: The Gippsland Performing Arts Centre was full of people who came to take a stand against domestic violence. Photograph supplied

Latrobe City Council held the Latrobe City Candlelight Vigil 2024. The candlelight vigil has been delivered by council since 2021 to honour the lives and memories of those who have been killed by domestic and family violence.

The council said these vigils are a call to action, for people to speak up, stop the silence that surrounds domestic and family violence, and reach out for support if experiencing, and or perpetrating violence.

Alongside Latrobe City Mayor Councillor Darren Howe, speakers at the event were the Deputy Mayor, Cr Tracie Lund, and Paul Ambrose from The Orange Door, a network that provides help for people experiencing family violence.

On average, one woman a week is killed by her intimate partner. Latrobe City has the second highest rate of family violence in Victoria.

Last year, the Latrobe Valley reported a 4.9 per cent jump in calls for assistance. A reported 2724 calls for assistance were made to Victoria Police; of that number 74 per cent were female.

The Mayor, Cr Howe, said that all have a responsibility to break the silence on family and domestic violence and provide support to those who need it.

“Latrobe City’s Candlelight Vigil is a space for reflection, solidarity, and a time to consider how we can all prevent family and domestic violence,” said the Mayor.

“I thank everyone who stood together with our community on Wednesday, (May 1), demonstrating your support and learning about the role we all have to play to end family and domestic violence.

“I encourage you to continue the conversation. Preventing family and domestic violence doesn’t mean putting yourself in danger. It means challenging sexist or disrespectful attitudes held by a friend, family member, colleague, or teammate.”

With recent figures revealing the scourge of family violence and sexual assault across Gippsland, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, has called on the state government to urgently increase funding for the under-resourced specialist sexual assault sector.

Addressing the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, Vicki Ward, in Parliament recently, Ms Bath highlighted the alarming rates of sexual assault and family violence in several local government areas in eastern Victoria.

“According to the Crime Statistics Agency, Latrobe City has the highest rate of family violence per 100,000 population of any municipality in Victoria outside of Melbourne,” Ms Bath said.

“Our local services do a power of work in efforts to support these victim survivors – who are disproportionately women and children – but they are oversubscribed and underfunded.

About 360 people in the region accessed support services through the Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault (GCASA) in the last 12 months – 261 people were in the Baw Baw Shire, while 170 and 187 people sought services in the East Gippsland and Wellington Shires respectively.

“Alarmingly the organisation reported a massive 200 per cent spike in demand for support through its Crisis Care Service,” she said.

The GCASA chief executive, Jane Barr, said there was an urgent need for better funding to keep up with the huge demand for support to stop women and children in danger from waiting on lists.

Ms Bath is calling on Minister Ward to commit to $9 million in funding for the specialist sexual assault sector,

If you need support:

1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Latrobe City Council encourages women seeking to gain financial freedom by starting their own business should consider attending the Turning Skills Into Startups three-part workshop at the Gippsland Performing Arts Centre.

All ticket proceeds will be donated to 1800RESPECT. Tickets are $49 and can be booked at