The Purple Bench initiative
The Purple Bench project was undertaken by the Wheatbelt Youth Council (WYC) in partnership with the WA White Ribbon Committee and the WA Women’s Council in 2018.
The initiative was first launched in Nova Scotia, Canada, and saw the placement of purple benches in public parks to mark the 25th anniversary of the murder of Barbra Baillie by her husband in 1990. Known as Barb’s Benches, these memorials serve to honour the memory of women murdered by their partners and provide information for people experiencing domestic and family violence.
In WA, this awareness raising project was launched by the WA Women’s Council, but was driven by a collaboration with WYCs in Bruce Rock, Merredin, Narembeen, Mukinbudin, Nungarin, Quairading, Bencubbin, Trayning, Kununoppin and Yelbeni. Working with local Shire Councils, community groups and businesses the WYCs took the responsibility to make the benches happen, including raising funds, agreeing on where they should be placed and making the benches ready for installation. In many instances this involved partnerships with local Men’s Sheds, businesses and community groups. As a result, the benches are proudly community owned.
The initiative has been important in encouraging conversations about the issue of violence against women in rural and regional communities, and has highlighted the leading role young people can play in prevention efforts.
Purple Bench projects have also been commenced in Southern Cross and Beverley.