Taking millions of steps towards ending family violence

Run Against Violence Central Coast team. Image: supplied.

The Run Against Violence fundraising challenge began in 2017 with marathon runner Kirrily Dear’s 1,300km solo run from Broken Hill to Sydney. Now in its fourth year, the RAV Virtual Team Challenge has as much imperative as ever to raise awareness about domestic, family and sexual violence. 

The distance from Broken Hill to Sydney – 1,300km – is roughly equivalent to 1.7 million steps. That latter number is in turn roughly equivalent to the number of Australians who experienced physical abuse before the age of 15 in a given year (based on ABS Personal Safety Survey 2012 data). 

It was statistics like this along with the heart-wrenching personal stories of family violence that prompted Kirrily Dear and co-founder, Brad Smithers to establish Run Against Violence (RAV) as a charity in 2015. 

The main goal of Run Against Violence is to raise awareness and promote discussion around domestic abuse and sexual assault. 

“Our job is to engage the broader community in conversations about family violence to reduce the stigma and isolation of people who have lived with domestic and family violence,” says Dear. 

“When that stigma is removed people then share their story, reach out for help,” she says. 

Runner and RAV founder, Kirrily Dear. Image: supplied.

“We deliver awareness campaigns and community activities in order to create the platform for these conversations around family violence to be heard.” 

Dear’s marathon solo run in 2017 launched the charity’s flagship event, the RAV Virtual Team Challenge. The ‘virtual’ aspect means that participants can duplicate the 1300km distance from Broken Hill to Sydney by running cumulative daily kms within their own locales. 

The challenge takes place over 19 days, which is the length of time it took Dear to complete her initial solo run. She chose to begin the route in Broken Hill because it took her through several regional towns, some quite remote. Statistics show that communities in regional areas suffer a much higher than average incidence of family violence and sexual assault. By adding these towns to the itinerary, Dear hoped to bring the issue into the light and allow open discourse. 

Run Against Violence recently partnered with National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) and the 2021 Virtual Team Challenge will help raise funds for NAPCAN’s Love Bites Program.

“Both our organisations are particularly concerned about the impacts of violence on children. Both our organisations believe that we all have a part to play. And both our organisations believe that educating young people is key for short and long-term change,” says NAPCAN’s Deputy CEO, Leesa Waters.

The Run Against Violence route from Broken Hill to Sydney. Image: www.runagainstviolence.com.

“Love Bites is an innovative respectful relationships education program that gives Australia’s young people the opportunity to have frank and open conversations about what healthy relationships look like, what red and green flags look like, what consent looks like and much, much more.” 

Registrations for the challenge are now open. The event begins on 30 August and concludes on 17 September. Participants are in teams of up to 20 people (individuals who wish to take part will be assigned to a team).

During the challenge, teams of up to 20 people will walk or run in their local area. Daily uploads of their distances onto an online tracker keeps them in the competition. The tracker collects and collates each team member’s distances so the participants can watch their team track across the map from Broken Hill to Sydney.

To be successful, the team is required to cover 1300km in the 19 days of the challenge.

For more details and to register, visit www.runagainstviolence.com.