By Luke Voogt
More than 1200 people protested in Geelong and Torquay on Monday, joining tens of thousands in the nationwide Women’s March 4 Justice.
At least 1000 people marched through central Geelong from Trades Hall beginning at 5pm, protesting multiple allegations of sexual assault that have rocked federal parliament in recent weeks.
“It was huge,” said Sarah Hathway, who spoke during the protest.
“I was standing on the back of a ute in Little Malop Street mall and from where I was the crowd seemed to fill the entire mall.
“Besides the high school climate strikes, I don’t think we’ve had a protest that big in Geelong since the marriage equality marches.”
Organiser Adele Walsh was “really pleased” with the turnout and vowed that the women’s network at Geelong Trades Hall would do “more in this space” soon.
“It was really inspiring to me to see so many angry and passionate women hit the street calling for change and to tell the government that enough is enough,” she said.
“We really want to engage with the community in keeping the momentum going – we really hope that this is the start of more action [opposing] violence against women.”
Earlier that day, more than 200 people protested in Torquay, with about half spelling out the word ‘justice’ on Cosy Corner beach at 8.15am.
“I’ve got a nine-year-old granddaughter, great nieces, nieces and a daughter,” Surf Coast Women’s March 4 Justice co-organiser Laura Connor said.
“We want our daughters and granddaughters to be respected, valued and, above all else, safe.
“Women in Australia are really angry and I think it’s because nothing that the Prime Minister says or does shows that he is taking this seriously.
“I can’t believe in 2021 our children and grandchildren are growing up in a country where they’d get this response from our Prime Minister. We just feel like he is simply not listening.
“This might be a good reminder for him that women make up 52 per cent of the population.
“We had a terrific turnout and I think it’s wonderful to see so many Surf Coast people coming out in solidarity with women and girls across Australia, calling for justice, and an end to sexism, misogyny, patriarchy, corruption, racism and dangerous workplace cultures.”
Protesters in both events also took at Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments about the marches in parliament that afternoon.
“Not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country,” Mr Morrison told Parliament, referring to deadly protests this week against a military coup in Myanmar.
“It was just the most inappropriate thing to say,” Ms Hathway said.
Across Australia thousands joined Women’s March 4 Justice protests including about 10,000 people in Melbourne.
Mr Morrison’s approval rating dropped to its lowest point since the January 2020 bushfires, according this week’s Newspoll, although he still leads federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese comfortably as preferred Prime Minister.
Labor now holds an election-winning 52 to 48 lead in the two-party preferred vote over the Liberal Party, according to the poll.