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This Is Northern New South Wales


V-Day-4-photo-by-Veda-Dante-for-Common-Ground-Byron-Bay V-Day-3-photo-by-Veda-Dante-for-Common-Ground-Byron-BayHeld for the past three years on Valentine’s Day, the One Billion Rising campaign is marked in over 200 countries and has become the biggest mass action to end violence against women and girls in history. (The “billion” refers to the staggering United Nations statistic that one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, or about one billion.)

Closer to home on the NSW North Coast, the figures* are just as alarming:

  • Incidents of domestic violence have risen between 2013 and 2014
  • Statistics show that in Byron Bay during 2014 there were 142 incidents of domestic violence recorded, up from 107 in 2013; Tweed Shire recorded 405 incidents in 2014, up from 310 in 2013
  • Between October 2012 and September 2014, domestic and family violence assaults in Ballina rose 8.4%, Lismore rose by 3.5% and Kyogle by 12.5%
    What essentially started as a 1994 New York play about women’s sexuality and social stigma has morphed into a powerful campaign galvanising millions of people around the world. Founded by playwright, activist and author of The Vagina Monologues Eve Ensler, One Billion Rising is part of a greater global movement to create “a world where women live safely and freely”.Each year, V-Day spotlights a particular group or specific issue – last year was justice – and this year the focus is firmly on the right for women to be paid a fair wage.

This year, the Byron Bay chapter has expanded from a singular event into a two-day festival format, a move organisers hope will foster greater dialogue within the community about a subject that has remained taboo for far too long. Starting on Friday February 13 at the Bangalow A&I Hall,theV-Day Women’s Festival will kick off at 5pm with a silent auction and raffle before a cast of 22 performs The Vagina Monologues at 7pm.

“Eve Ensler’s play serves as a springboard for conversation, to spark debates, to inspire questions, and to instil humour into subject matter that is mostly heavy hearted,” said event producer Sybil Steele. “So, while the monologues may not necessarily be specific to the Byron area, every woman I’ve ever spoken to about the show finds something of herself onstage in at least one of the monologues.”

In a show of collective strength, men, women and children will don red and dance at Main Beach in Byron Bay the following morning for the V-Day One Billion Rising: Rise for the Wage flashmob.

“We will then return to the Bangalow A&I Hall where the public can experience free workshops including self-defence, re-birthing, yoga and the arts,” Sybil explained. “These are available to the community from 10am to 4pm and there will be a bake sale, kids art centre and a Valentine’s boutique in support of local vendors.”

Funds raised from the festival will go towards two local organisations that provide essential services for women and girls in need.

“This year we’ve decided to funnel funds to the Byron Girls Group at the YAC, whose funding was recently cut by ruthless government budget slashing, in addition to continuing our support for Assist-A-Sista Australia,” Sybil explained. “Assist-A-Sista’s ultimate aim is to break the cycle of domestic violence for all. To teach men and women that violence is never acceptable; that is a sign of weakness and not strength.”

* Note that these are only the incidents reported and responded to by police. Local services like Assist-a-Sista and Byron Girls Youth Club see many families where domestic and family violence is unreported



Friday February 13, 2015

Bangalow A&I Hall

5pm Auction and raffle (free event)

7pm The Vagina Monologues ($30 general admission)


Saturday February 14, 2015

Main Beach Byron Bay

6:30am V-Day One Billion Rising: Rise for the Wage flash-mob at Main Beach Byron Bay (free event)

Bangalow A&I Hall

10am to 4pm workshops, Valentine’s Day gift and floral boutiques, crafts for all ages

Free Workshops

10am Yoga with Tahl Rinksy

11:30am Imprint of an Awakened Child with Nicole Moore

1:15pm The Shadow Self with Missi from Beehive Readings

2:30pm Self defence with Jitsu

7pm – Musician Abbe May $20 General admission


Bid for surfboards signed by world champion Stephanie Gilmore and professional freesurfer Dave Rastovich, Splendour in the Grass tickets, a brand new Gary McNeill quad bike – and a slew of other prizes at The VDay Women’s Festival Byron Bay. Held at the Bangalow A&I Hall on Friday February 13, the silent auction is open to the public from 5pm.

Purchase tickets here

All proceeds to and Byron Girls Youth Club

Learn more:

Instagram @VdayByronBay

Facebook VDay Byron Bay


Writer and Photographer Veda Dante