The 2017 Ride Against Domestic Violence came to an end in McCallum Park yesterday afternoon with riders completing the 280km journey from Busselton to Victoria Park.
After another early start and a handful of coffees, riders left Mandurah and dug in for the second last leg of the ride—a cheery 68km to Armadale. A good pace was set and, after swapping highways for pathways for bypasses, the riders arrived in Armadale just before 10.30am.
As they pulled into Memorial Park, riders passed a beautiful guard of honour in the form of t-shirts—arranged on clotheslines—painted by clients of Starick, one of the women’s refuges supported by the ride.
After enjoying a sausage sizzle prepared by the Rotary Club, Armadale Mayor Henry Zelones welcomed the riders to Armadale and introduced representatives from Starick, a not-for-profit organisation that provides multi-layered support services in Perth’s south-east metropolitan area to women and children experiencing family and domestic violence.
Leanne Barron, CEO of Starick, then spoke about some of the important rehabilitation and support services offered by Starick, including the colourful t-shirt display that greeted the riders; this service gives clients a chance to express their emotions and find healing through creative expression.
A Starick survivor also shared her personal experience of domestic violence, thanking the women’s refuge for their support and guidance through very difficult and challenging circumstances.
Riders then mounted their bikes and returned to the road for the final leg of the journey, a 35km ride from Armadale to Victoria Park. Encouraged by the company of cyclists from the Armadale Cycling Club, the riders made quick work of Albany Highway and arrived at McCallum Park just after 12.15pm.
Led by John Elliot and Rick in the lead support vehicle, there was a sense of relief and jubilation among the riders as they glided past a welcoming crowd of supporters and disembarked at their final destination.
With a view of Perth City in the background and the gentle hush of the Swan River by their side, Tim Hammond MP and State Treasurer Ben Wyatt MLA welcomed the riders and thanked them for their support of women’s refuges in Western Australia.
A representative from Zonta House–the final women’s refuge supported by the ride–then discussed its vital services. Zonta House supports women who have experienced family and domestic violence, mental health, homelessness and other life crises. They provides refuge and transitional accommodation, holistic support services and education to women over the age of 18.
A Zonta House Survivor shared her personal story of an abusive relationship and, upon describing the fact that her violence restraining order was breached 94 times, called for reform in laws and regulations to ensure perpetrators of domestic violence receive greater penalties for their actions.
After riding for two days and travelling more than 220km from Busselton to Perth, riders and supporters convened for a final group photo before saying farewell.
Although the 2017 Ride Against Domestic Violence has come to an end, the fight against domestic violence continues. Many people continue to be affected by domestic violence in Western Australia and Australia, and we can only prevent the trauma and heartache by taking the responsibility to expose it for all to see.
If you would like to make a donation to support women’s refuges that care for women and children experiencing domestic violence, please visit our donations page here.