When the final siren sounded at Crawford Oval during the match between Melbourne Uni Blacks and St Bernard’s football clubs, with Princes Park just a short walk away, both captains thought there was only one thing left to do.
“Football is considered a bit of a man’s game so I think we came over here to show a message,” said Owen McIntyre, the St Bernard’s captain.
“We do have to show women respect. It’s just part of society.”
Marching alongside one another, both teams and coaches huddled around the makeshift shrine for 22-year-old Eurydice Dixon, and held a moment of silence.
The show of support comes three days after the discovery of Ms Dixon’s body at Princes Park in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“We trained on Princes Park on Tuesday night, and a lot of the guys live around here at college as well,” said Josh Bowden, the Uni Blacks captain.
“It’s pretty simple, it’s just not good enough from men in society.
“It was quite telling that a lot of blokes spoke about it at training on Thursday night. And [we] just thought it hits close to home. We’ve got a lot of important women in our lives. We’ve got to change.”
A team of roughly 100 police, Red Cross volunteers and chaplains from the Victorian Council of Churches were on site on Saturday, with just as many members of the public paying tribute to Ms Dixon and making inquiries.
Victoria Police Acting Commander David Clayton reassured the community that they can go about their usual business in the city they call home.
“As police, it is our role to provide people with both reassurance but also tips on how we can all stay safe in our community,” he said.
“We provide safety information recognising that responsibility for crimes always rests with the offenders who commit them.
“People should be able to walk home at night without being in fear and offenders need to be held to account for their behaviour.”
“This is quite a shocking thing that’s happened,” said Kathy Cooney, a Red Cross volunteer.
“Red Cross is committed to working with people who are in a vulnerable situation. So people are wanting to express their grief and sorrow and we’re here to have a chat with them if that helps.”
‘We need to stop blaming the victim’
There was criticism of police during the week after advice was given to the community urging people to always be aware of their surroundings, with some suggesting it was forcing women to change their behaviour, rather than putting the focus on offenders.
Gracie Cowell stopped to speak to the Red Cross.
“I think we need to stop victim-blaming,” she said. “Obviously, women should be encouraged to be safe.
“But it should be coming from their parents. Someone in the position of the police shouldn’t be shining a light on what women should do. They should be telling men what to do.”
Police have already boosted patrols at the park in response to community concerns.
A 19-year-old man was charged with rape and murder.
Victoria’s Minister for Women, Natalie Hutchins, told the ABC the grief is now turning to anger.
“There is true grief and quite frankly a lot of outrage,” he said.
“Women are quite frankly sick of being told that they need to keep themselves safe in circumstances of walking to their cars at night or through a park at night.
“I’m tired and so are many women of the conversation always going to victim-blaming – was the woman protecting herself? – rather than focusing in on the perpetrator and why he did this.”