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A community gathers in solidarity after Merri Creek attack on jogger

Event organiser Olivia Greenwell is part of a group of women who run regularly in the area. She said it was imperative the community took a stand.

“We need to stop needing to have to have a get-together because another woman has been murdered or brutally assaulted,” she said.

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“I think it’s great that there’s been such an immediate response to thinking about safety in the area, but at the end of the day, it’s not lighting or lack of lighting that causes violence against women.”

Sunday’s march followed a cleansing ceremony at nearby CERES on Saturday, and the announcement last week of a safety audit of the Merri Creek corridor.

Robyn, who didn’t want her surname used, said she lived near Merri Creek.

“I think it’s very important to show our support for the woman who was attacked and also that there’s a really profound level of community concern about it,” she said.

Sarah, who also lives locally walked with a group of mums, hopeful that the area would remain a peaceful spot for the community.

“It’s such a peaceful place and we want it to continue to feel that way. I’m with a few mums and we all have 18-year-old sons. We’d hate for people to have to feel fearful around them,” she said.

The Reclaim Our Merri Creek march begins on Sunday evening.

The Reclaim Our Merri Creek march begins on Sunday evening.Credit:Paul Jeffers

Rob Konkie said he attended because it was important men showed solidarity for the cause.

“I use this walk every day and I think it’s important to add my voice to the cause and show the women who are affected by violence that we support them. And to show that violence is not okay,” he said.

Belinda Lo said the large turnout alleviated safety concerns she’d had since the attack.

“We’re really heartened by the turnout,” she said.

“We have a right to feel safe. We love our local creek and we have the right to feel safe here. We also wanted to send a message to the victim – you’re not forgotten and we want you to come back and have a safe space.”

The shocking attack on Tuesday sparked renewed community anger and memories of other unrelated cases including the murders of Eurydice Dixon and Aiia Maasarwe, both of whom were raped in public places before they were killed.

“The Merri Creek is enjoyed and loved by so many. We all deserve the basic right to access the creek safely, especially at dawn and dusk,” organisers of the public protest said.

They also thanked the crows and a local choir rounded things off with a rendition of Quiet.

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Police have increased patrols along the Merri Creek Trail in response to the attack.

Coburg man Joel Russo, 25, has been charged with a number of offences including 10 counts of rape. He’s been remanded to return to court on March 12 next year.

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