Penguin Uniting’s starring role

penguin stars

When the Penguin Uniting Church’s Uniting Friends group decided to weave 10,000 eight-pointed stars for a 2018 Commonwealth Games art project, the small group from Tasmania’s North-West Coast thought reaching the target might be a bit of a challenge.

However, last month it delivered not only its own 13,500 stars but also a further 500 from Glen Waverley Uniting and 400 from Galston, 36 km north-west of Sydney, in readiness for the April Games on the Gold Coast.

The stars will form part of the One Million Stars to End Violence project, which was begun by Maryann Talia Pau as a personal response to the tragic rape and murder of Jill Meagher in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick in 2012.

They will be displayed in an arts installation highlighting the effects of violence, in all its forms, within society.

Ms Pau said the project encouraged people to make something beautiful and powerful together.

“We know that domestic violence, violence on our streets, racism and harassment are happening right now and often it is difficult to know what to do to help those who are suffering and to help prevent it,” she said.

“The Million Stars project is an opportunity to remind each other that we can do something about it and not feel paralysed by all that is broken with humanity.”

Penguin UC was one of 100 star-weave communities worldwide, and the only one in Tasmania, committed to producing 10,000 stars each by the middle of this year.

Project organiser Jeanne Koetsier said 20 groups and eight individuals – spread over about 180 kilometres to the east and west of Penguin – had helped by weaving stars.

There were church groups, community groups, service club groups, school groups and people who just wanted to lend their support to the cause.

One of the school groups will continue weaving stars as it found the exercise a good way to encourage students to open up about their experiences of being bullied and what might be done about it.

Mrs Koetsier said she was pleased that the project had highlighted the issue within the local community and believed it had also seen new friendships develop.

“We have seen people sitting around a table and just talking and that is a wonderful thing,” she said.

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