Marching to a loud future

For 60 seconds Camp Street will be filled with noises – the shrill sounds of whistles, the beating of drums, colourful ribbons will be blowing in the wind. 

I think (its been successful) because it is a grass roots initiative that people have really embraced. - Maureen Hatcher

Hundreds of people who have now had their voices heard will ensure there will be No More Silence when it comes to child abuse. 

When Maureen Hatcher tied the first ribbon on a fence in Ballarat two years ago  during the Royal Commission into clergy child sex abuse she never envisioned that thousands of ribbons would flutter on church and school fences across Ballarat and the world. 

“Originally (the idea started) because a lot of people were hearing the stories of the Royal Commission,” Ms Hatcher said.

“The people I was speaking to said everyone felt really helpless – that there was nothing they could do.”

In May 2015, hundreds of people marched from the Ballarat courts to Alfred Deakin Place. That march will be replicated and celebrated during a No More Silence week from May 19. 

“I think (it has been successful) because it is a grass roots initiative that people have really embraced,” Ms Hatcher said.

Survivor Tony Wardley was abused from the age of six, at three different schools in Ballarat in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

For years Mr Wardley could not to walk to walk past St Alipius school where he was abused.

That changed when he saw the ribbons adorning the fence.

ENDING THE SILENCE: Lou Ridsdale, Pam Sefton and Maureen Hatcher tie ribbons.

ENDING THE SILENCE: Lou Ridsdale, Pam Sefton and Maureen Hatcher tie ribbons.

“For years I tried to avoid that area … one day I walked across and realised there was people out there to understand what we are going through,” Mr Wardley said.

“I just hope that the ribbons have helped people come forward whether they were male or female, I hope they realise the support out there is there to help them through it all.”

The week long event will also focus on educating the community.

The library will host a white wreath workshop to remember those who have died by suicide, an education expert will run sessions on safety, consent and gender equality aimed at the parents and educators. 

“It important for people to not forget – we can’t go to silence. It’s really important that we keep that momentum up,” Ms Hatcher said.