Scores of people braved the rain on Saturday, November 25 - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - to stand up against the scourge of domestic violence.
The group walked from Fairy Meadow to North Wollongong's Stuart Park, where they heard the stories of those trying to drive down the prevalence of domestic and gender-based violence.
The event was an initiative of the Rotary clubs of the Illawarra, which - along with clubs across the state - have joined with NSW Police Force to create campaigns and activities targeting domestic violence.
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows a quarter of women have experienced violence perpetrated by an intimate partner since the age of 15.
On average, one woman in Australia is killed every week by a current or former partner.
Acting Inspector Tanya Smith said domestic violence was a "serious problem" with a "devastating impact" on families in the Illawarra.
"We need the community to understand that domestic and family violence is absolutely everybody's business," she said.
Kirrily Dear is the founder of Run Against Violence, a yearly event that aims to engage people in conversations about domestic violence and invests all money back into respectful relationships education for school children.
"Our mission is to create communities where family violence can no longer live," Ms Dear said.
She said an event like that held on Saturday, when people came together and spoke about the issue, was powerful.
"Conversation is a thing that cures this problem," Ms Dear told the crowd.
Stacey Jane, the founder and chief executive officer of victim support charity Escabags, shared her own story as a survivor of domestic violence.
She said she was in an abusive relationship for three and a half years and while that violence was sometimes physical, what was worse was the psychological abuse her ex-partner "covertly packaged as love".
Ms Jane described how he would closely monitor her actions and movements, and how she was sometimes locked in the house for 12 to 14 hours a day.
But she has since used her experience to create a successful charity, which has distributed to victim-survivors nearly 10,000 bags filled with essential products they will need in the immediate aftermath of leaving an abusive relationship.
Rotary district governor Tonia Barnes said under the partnership with police, Rotary clubs would look at how to move from raising awareness into action.
Local podcast explores why gendered violence happens
Also marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is the release of Shellharbour Council Community Action Group's new podcast series titled Agents for Change.
The podcast explores gender stereotypes, unconscious bias, social experiments, and how they contribute to the prevalence of violence against women.
"We hope that by raising awareness and educating the community on what drives gendered-based violence, we can influence change," Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer said.
Melissa Perry, the chief executive officer of White Ribbon Australia, described the podcast as innovative.
"They focus on the different drivers of gendered violence and seek to unpack and dismantle outdated attitudes and behaviours around power, privilege and entitlement that allows men's violence to flourish," Ms Perry said.
Vigil coming up
November 25 is the first of what are known as the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, which culminate on December 10: Human Rights Day.
Women Illawarra and the Illawarra Women's Health Centre are holding a public vigil in Wollongong's MacCabe Park on Monday, November 27 to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
The noon event will be an opportunity to honour the women lost to gender-based violence in 2023, as well as hear from advocates in the Illawarra.