Months of community collaboration culminated in the opening of a new playground at Centacare’s Riverland Domestic Violence Service (RDVS) last week.
The space, which will provide a sanctuary for women and children fleeing violence, was made possible by the generosity, support and hard work of local residents, businesses, community groups and councils.
Speaking at the opening, Tim Whetstone, Member for Chaffey, said the playground epitomised what regional communities can achieve when they work together: “This is a great outcome. What we are witnessing is typical of what regional communities do when they come together, collaborate and just get the job done.
“Sadly, we hear tales all too often of how domestic violence impacts everyone’s life one way or another, whether you’ve been a victim of domestic violence or whether you know someone who has been. It is not ok.’’
The RDVS supported 319 clients, including 93 children, in 2015/2016.
“All of those children have been traumatised because of their experiences in their homes,’’ RDVS Manager Desi Alexandridis said.
“This can impact their behaviour, development and learning abilities.
“Playgrounds, under any circumstances, provide great joy to children but this one will also be a sanctuary where mothers and children can play safely, free from abuse.’’
The new playground includes a swing bridge, tepee, basket swing, cubby house and other equipment funded by community grants and donations, including a $10,000 gift from Riverland Water, raised at the company’s annual golf day.
“We hope this new playground will bring a little fun and joy to these children at such a difficult time in their lives,’’ Chairman Merv Peacock said.
Performing the Welcome to Country at the opening, Auntie Frances, a Riverland Elder, said the playground was a blessing for the “little people’’.
“Little people are also the victims of what we see out there from the big people, and to give them something of joy, well, isn’t that awesome; just to let the pain go away for a little while,” she said.
The playground’s design was overseen by RDVS community and engagement worker, Gayleen.
“We have seen children healed through play and learning to smile again,’’ she said.
About 70 people attended the launch on October 28, including members of the Rural Women’s Gathering who raised $11,000 to help refurbish emergency accommodation units and children’s bedrooms at the RDVS.
“We were very passionate about it and felt the service could benefit from our help,’’ Chairperson Margaret Howie said.
Special thanks to: Renmark Paringa Council; Berri Barmera Council; Berri Churches Welfare Group; Rotary Club of Loxton; Berri Senior Citizens; Renmark Lions Club; Zonta Club of the Riverland; Lutheran Ladies Friends & Fellowship; Loxton Pioneer Playground; Refresh & Bloom; Bob’s Barn; Cobdogla District Club; Riverland Water; Rural Women’s Gathering.