RECLAIMING the streets and making the community safer will be the focus of a march in Ballarat tomorrow night.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the Take Back the Night March, declaring our streets need to be safe for everyone.
The Take Back the Night March was re-ignited last year after the rape and murder of Jill Meagher in Melbourne.
This year, Ballarat CASA (Centre Against Sexual Assault) is continuing the event as a recurrent statement that violence and sexual assault of members of the community will not be tolerated.
March co-organiser Annie Peake wants men and women to join together to voice their concerns about violence in the community.
“Women and men from all backgrounds are welcome to join in the march, as we acknowledge that some men are also victims of sexual assault and violence, Ms Peake said.
“We encourage women and men to march against sexual assault and violence as a united community.”
The first Take Back the Night March took place in October 1975 in Pennsylvania and various subsequent marches have been held over the years in countless countries, including the United States, Germany, Belgium, Italy and England.
CASA manager Shireen Gunn said: “The march makes a declaration that women have the right to move around in the community without the fear or threat of sexual violence.
“It is often said, particularly to women, to be cautious and careful when being out at night.
“The Ballarat Take Back the Night March is designed to reclaim freedom of movement,” Ms Gunn said.
“With the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse under way, it is particularly poignant to acknowledge those in our community who have experienced sexual assault and have been struggling in isolation.
“CASA is a service in our community that offers support, advocacy and specialist counselling to those affected by sexual assault.”
The Take Back the Night movement has since grown to encompass all forms of violence against all people, including family violence and sexual abuse within the home.
Those taking part in tomorrow night’s march will congregate at the Ballarat Town Hall in Sturt Street at 6.30pm. Marchers will then head down Sturt Street, through the Bridge Mall, back up Sturt Street and end at 7.30pm at Camp Street for speeches, entertainment and food.
All marchers are asked to wear the colour orange and bring whistles and/or torches.
Anyone requiring assistance related to sexual assault can contact the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault on 5320 3933 or after hours on 1800 806292.