9 June 2015 | Melton Leader
WITH reports of family violence more than doubling in Melton in the past four years, a leading women’s health service is calling for a refuge to be built in the municipality. Women’s Health West, in a submission to the State Government’s Royal Commission into family violence, states that population growth in the west meant women and children fleeing family violence were facing “huge unmet needs because our region doesn’t have anywhere near the number (of) women’s refuges to accommodate them”.
News and Events
9 June 2015 | Melton Leader
Today we heard the sad news about the passing of Joan Kirner AM, Victoria’s first and only woman premier. We have been sharing stories in the office and would like to repeat some here in memorial of Joan.
‘I worked in the Women’s Policy Coordination Unit in Premier’s Department in the early 1990s when Joan Kirner was Premier and I remember attending a Reclaim the Night march. Joan walked around talking to each of the women who worked in government-funded women’s agencies; she knew everyone’s names and where they worked and treated them so personally. About fifteen years later I saw Joan at a forum and figured I’d re-introduce myself but she saw me and said, “Robyn Gregory! I hear you’re at Women’s Health West and you’ve just written a PhD on abortion? You need to get that published, let’s talk about who you need to talk to…”
What always struck me about Joan was her drive to improve the lot of all women. She truly embodied the phrase “the personal is political”. Her great skill was to remember women, to support them to lead work and collaborate to change the conditions for all, and then to go about the task of linking them together. It was never about Joan; never about ego; it was always about equity and justice for women. She inspired us at Women’s Health West – as a passionate “westy” and a great leader.’
– Robyn Gregory, CEO WHW
‘The WHW crisis accommodation refuge property is named after Joan – called ‘Joan’s Place’. This is still its official name in all our dealings with Department of Health Human Services (DHHS). We have a wonderful photo of the opening of Joan’s Place taken with her and the original board (in the early 80s) on the wall at the property.’
– Sophie Campbell, WHW Crisis Accommodation Services Coordinator
In 2010 we were delighted when Joan agreed to launch Preventing Violence Together, the western region action plan to prevent violence against women. She’s pictured at the launch with members of the Western Region Preventing Violence Against Women Working Group
‘I was lucky enough to hear speeches from this amazing woman. A number of years ago she was at the launch of Preventing Violence Together. She was not able to get onto the stage at that time due to illness but she held the room from where she stood with a speech inspiring all. When most would have looked at taking it easy and retiring, the lists of what she was involved in at the time was daunting. I also remember when she was in state politics many years ago and the flak she received from the media and the boys club that was politics at the time. She rose above all and did not receive the credit she deserved. She is one of the many women who have inspired me to advocate for women and children.’
– Evelyn, WHW Family Violence Worker
Robyn Gregory and Joan Kirner with the history book
We were proud to have Joan introduce WHW’s 21 year history book, REtroSPECT. Joan ended her introduction to the book with congratulations to Women’s Health West’s on 21 years, and a ‘birthday wish’. It seems appropriate to use her own words to conclude this memorial, as surely this was also her wish, and captures the zeal that stands as her legacy. Vale Joan Kirner AM.
‘And now for a twenty-first birthday wish. Let’s mark this occasion by making new commitments to achieving even greater advances in gender equity, diversity, social inclusion and the elimination of poverty for women over the next twenty-one years.
We know we can do it’.
– Joan Kirner, AM
AGM and REtroSPECT launch, November 2009
Some of the participants of the ‘Deadly Health’ sexual health and respectful relationships half-day education session with Aboriginal young people in Melton. Photo by Amanda Wimetal
Adapted from a speech by Robyn Gregory
On 26 May every year, ceremonies, marches, speeches and presentations are held around the country to commemorate Sorry Day, the day on which Australians express regret for the oppression of Aboriginal people, including the systematic removal of children from their families.
The first National Sorry Day was held on 26 May 1998, one year after the tabling of the report Bring them Home, which outlined the extent and impact of the stolen generation. Following Kevin Rudd’s apology in 2008, Sorry Day gained a more formal strength that was missing with John Howard’s refusal to issue a formal apology.
Since the first Sorry Day the focus has been on the healing needed throughout Australian society if we are to achieve reconciliation. It is an opportunity for organisations such as ours to report back on what we are doing to work towards reconciliation.
Here at Women’s Health West (WHW), we have developed a Foundational Reconciliation Plan (January-June 2015), designed to lay the foundations for a comprehensive Reconciliation Action Plan. That work will be consultative and shaped by the recommendations of our local Aboriginal communities, Elders and community controlled organisations, as well as staff, clients and community women.
However, WHW recognises that before seeking to develop respectful and reciprocal relationships with local Elders and communities, we must publicly recognise the past and ongoing injustices perpetrated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
We must also begin building our organisation’s capacity for understanding and engaging in the work of reconciliation. We see this action as the foundation on which respectful and meaningful partnerships and relationships can be built to ‘close the gap’ in health outcomes for first nations communities.
Here are some examples of ways we are working to build our capacity as an organisation towards reconciliation with first nation peoples:
- Our health promotion and family violence managers conducted a ‘Making two worlds work’ cultural audit of Women’s Health West in April. The results will be used to inform the four-year Reconciliation Plan.
- WHW was approached by DHS in late November 2014 to auspice funding for the Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group. The funds, which must be held and distributed by an incorporated body, support the business of the IFVRAG in educating, preventing, reducing and responding to family violence in Indigenous communities. We were pleased to be approached and to be able to assist.
- WHW, in partnership with the Wulumperi Sexual Health Unit, the Department of Education’s Koori Engagement Unit and the Secondary School Nursing Program, delivered a sexual health and respectful relationships half-day education session with 13 Aboriginal young people in Melton. This ‘Deadly Health’ event will be held in Wyndham in early June and is a bi-annual activity for our health promotion team.
- WHW hosted a meeting in April between the Preventing Violence Together Partnership and members of the West Metro Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group. The meeting was held to develop a series of recommendations about the primary prevention of family violence within Aboriginal communities, for inclusion in the PVT Partnership’s submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
- Cross-cultural training will be provided for staff and board at the end of June on developing culturally-appropriate solutions to the difficulties confronting Indigenous people in a way that empowers individuals and communities to look to the future.
- Our new policy development worker, who has extensive experience in working with Indigenous communities, will support the completion of the Foundational Plan before beginning the process of developing a four-year Reconciliation Plan. This plan will be developed in close consultation with staff, the board, and Elders and community members.
For personal inspiration on reconciliation you might like to watch BabaKiueria – a satirical film from 1986 that is unfortunately still relevant 30 years later. You might also watch Paul Keating’s Redfern speech, which he made as Prime Minister on 10 December 1992 to mark the Year of Indigenous People.