Strength in creativity

Casey Cardinia Family Violence Network convenor Cindy-Lee Harper (back, third from right) joined White Ribbon Art Gallery's (back row) Rudy Azzola, Colin Hood, April Whitelaw, Richard Gattenhof, Kathleen Kendally, Figgy O'Connell, (front row) Rana Sadeghian, Ann Chadwick, Lida Chatkiewicz, Katharine Gorry, Marie Cleland and Laura Abrell. 399479 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Matthew Sims

The White Ribbon Art Gallery celebrated receiving a welcome boost to its funding from the Casey Cardinia Family Violence Network (CCFVN).

The organisation is looking ahead to this year’s annual exhibition of art works highlighting the pain and injustices behind tales of family violence.

Created in 2020 as a way for people to express themselves against violence when Covid restrictions prevented the annual Walk Against Family Violence on White Ribbon Day in November 2020, the gallery has cemented itself firmly as a local group within the community, contributing local works to the Cardinia Arts Society and Pakenham Art, as well as holding many other exhibitions locally, raising awareness about domestic violence.

CCFVN convenor Cindy-Lee Harper said the group was excited to support the gallery with a donation of more than $2000.

“We’re really please to be able to support the White Ribbon Art Gallery for the fantastic work they do,“ she said.

President and founder April Whitelaw said the committee were “amazingly grateful“ for the donation towards their upcoming exhibition in November.

“This will give us start-up funds to enable us to look for venues and caterers for our next exhibition,“ she said.

Ms Whitelaw said the committee were hopeful to bring their message through art statewide and beyond.

“Our vision is a nation where everyone is safe and free from domestic violence,“ she said.

“I’m hoping that we will be able to incorporate art from the Indigenous community, including songs and music.“

Pakenham artist Marie Cleland has had a number of pieces exhibited in the gallery so far, highlighting the pain inherent in domestic violence situations and the strength found in those able to speak.

“Since hiding violence and abuse thrives in silence,“ she said.

“There’s an overwhelming sense of freedom when you finally escape.“

Ms Cleland said she knew a number of friends who had experienced family violence.

“It’s just so sad,“ she said.

“They tell you to shut up and not say anything.

“You need to speak out.“

Ms Whitelaw said she had brought significant personal experience with domestic violence into her role and hoped to support both the victims and perpetrators.

“It is good to recognise that support is needed on both sides,“ she said.

“I’m really thrilled that the White Ribbon Art Gallery has been accepted by the community.“

Ms Whitelaw said the key thing for anyone experiencing family violence issues was to remember they were never alone.

“Never give up hope,“ she said.

“Embrace the good opportunities that are presented to you everyday, whether small or large, and you’ll find your way.“

For more information about the White Ribbon Art Gallery, visit the Facebook page or contact

Anyone requiring support for domestic violence can contact 1800RESPECT, MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre on 1800 015 188.