News and Events

Infographic: rising police referrals

We’re having a very busy year – this infographic presents some data to show you how police referrals have increased in the past year and over the past few years as well.

Powerful stories shared for International Women’s Day: photo blog

Words by Nicola Harte and Karin Holzknecht, photos by Sally Camilleri

On 4 March 2015, 90 people gathered at VU at MetroWest in Footscray for a joy-filled celebration of International Women’s Day. This photo blog tells a story of the day in pictures.


Women’s Health West CEO Dr Robyn Gregory opened by giving some background to the event and asking us to think about how we apply human rights in our everyday lives, and what changes would we like to see in our community?


Commissioner Dr Teresa De Fazio then described her work at the Victorian Multicultural Commission, as well as the principles of multiculturalism and how they relate to human rights. For example, that every Victorian is entitled to mutual respect regardless of diverse backgrounds, and to access opportunities to contribute to the social, cultural, economic and political life of the state.

The description of the intersection of human rights and multiculturalism perfectly dovetailed with Kirsten Campbell’s introduction of Our Community Our Rights. Our Community Our Rights is WHW’s human rights program that engages migrant and refugee women in advocacy training and project work and promotes participation in Australian society.

L-R: Kirsten Campbell (Women’s Health West project worker), Alice (Our Community Our Rights participant), and Commissioner Dr Teresa De Fazio

We then showed on the big screen a series of short films in which project participants from South Sudan, ethnic communities in Burma and India reflect on their experiences of advocating for human rights in their community as a result of their participation in the program.

The three short films launched on the day are now available on our Youtube channel

Following the films, members from each group joined Kirsten and Commissioner De Fazio on the stage for a lively question and answer session. The panel received some great questions from the audience and answered thoughtfully, passionately, and with gentle humour.

L-R: Dr Teresa De Fazio, May (Our Community Our Rights community evaluator), Kirsten Campbell (Women’s Health West), Alice (Our Community Our Rights participant) and Chandana (Our Community Our Rights participant)

Questions from the floor included how audience members might run the program in their own community, how to involve men in family violence awareness training, and even an invitation for participants to speak to Victoria University social work students about their experiences.


During the celebration we were treated to some great performances. The fabulous singing of Priya Parab Singh encouraged some of us to get up and dance!


The delicate pink costumes and elegant movements of dancers from the Shan ethnic community in Burma held us spell-bound from start to finish.


And Malini and Archana performed a dramatic narrative Indian dance featuring this beautiful arrangement carried on a tray.


Fairy Caitlin also flew in to entertain the children who attended. We heard excited reports about sitting on a giant rainbow while she painted faces and made balloon animals.


There were lots of positive comments in the feedback from the audience about the event; particularly about the inspirational and diverse women represented in the films and on the panel.

When asked what she liked about the celebration, one woman said, ‘Hearing about the Our Community Our Rights, particularly from the participants on the panel – their personal stories were extremely powerful’.

Another woman said she liked, ‘that women are doing things for themselves, how women can be empowered and in turn empower others – teaching is the best way to learn’.


To find more about Our Community Our Rights, to watch the films or to download the fact sheets developed through the program, visit http://whwest.org.au/rights/


Women’s Health West would like to acknowledge and thank the Victorian Cultural Commission, whose funding support assisted us to run this event.

Funding reprieve brings great relief

25 March 2015: Women’s Health West joins homelessness organisations around the country in expressing relief at the extension of homelessness funding for two more years. The National Partnership Against Homelessness (NPAH) agreement includes a specific focus on women and children experiencing family violence.

Women’s Health West has used these funds to create innovative local programs that divert women away from homelessness. For example, in the last financial year alone, Women’s Health West used NPAH funds to:

  • Provide a 24/7 crisis response that received a total of 6,209 police referrals
  • Improve the safety of 85 women and 111 children by installing 187 security measures
  • Provide court support to 62 women to obtain intervention orders excluding the perpetrator from the home

‘Current funding was due to expire on 30 June 2015,’ said Women’s Health West CEO Dr Robyn Gregory. ‘Without that funding each of those programs would have ended.’

WHW joined 60 homelessness organisations nationwide in urging the Commonwealth Minister for Social Services, the Hon Scott Morrison MP to commit to a four-year agreement.

‘Thankfully the Victorian Government had already pledged to its share of the funding for the next three years.

‘While this extension is more limited than our request, the news gives our staff some security – as well as the important promise of ongoing services for women and children over the weekend and in crisis.


MEDIA: Contact Nicola Harte, Communications Manager on 9689 9588 or email nicolah(at)whwest.org.au

Domestic violence stats

The release of the latest crime statistics from Victoria Police show a disturbing trend that is mirrored in Women’s Health West’s statistics, Maribyrnong Leader took up the story in the 24 March 2015 edition:

Crime stats show cases almost triple over four years

Domestic violence cases have almost tripled in Maribyrnong over the past four years, new crime stats reveal… Women’s Health West chief executive Robyn Gregory said she wasn’t surprised by the data, given the announcement of a royal commission into family violence and high profile cases such as the death of Luke Batty. Dr Gregory said domestic violence boiled down to gender inequality and while the system for helping women wasn’t broken, it was under enormous strain…


Gender equity starts at breakfast

Leaders in gender equity at the breakfast forum. Photo by Stephanie Rich.
Leaders in gender equity at the breakfast forum. Photo by Stephanie Rich.

Early this morning (24 March), leaders from across Melbourne’s west gathered in Sunshine for a breakfast forum serving eggs with a side of gender equity. Mayors, chief executives and other VIPs heard about how strong leaders are key to promoting gender equity and shaping cultural change.

Robyn Gregory from Women’s Health West opened the forum, followed by a video message from Tim Watts MP, Federal Member for Gellibrand, and then Patty Kinnersly from Our Watch gave a national perspective.

Speakers were followed by presentations from the panel, where leaders from local government, community health, corporate, academia, and police sectors were represented. Panel members Kellie Nagle (Municipal Association of Victoria), Bronwyn Upston (MonashLink), John O’Brien (National Australia Bank), Dr Jennifer Whelan (Psynapse), and Acting Commander Dean Stevenson (Victoria Police) each spoke briefly and then faced some curly questions in a Q&A, including ‘is resistance better than indifference?’ and ‘how do we move beyond “girls vs boys”?’

Panel members (L-R): Kellie Nagle, Bronwyn Upston, John O'Brien, Dr Jennifer Whelan and Acting Commander Dean Stevenson. Photo by Karin Holzknecht.
Panel members (L-R): Kellie Nagle, Bronwyn Upston, John O’Brien, Dr Jennifer Whelan and Acting Commander Dean Stevenson. Photo by Karin Holzknecht.

Key messages

  • If we want to end violence against women, we need to advance gender equity which will help us achieve gender equality
  • Tackling violence against women is about changing unconscious gender bias, both in ourselves and others
  • We need strong leaders who challenge the status quo to promote gender equity and culture change
  • Every single workplace has a role to play in promoting gender equity in order to prevent violence against women

Ways to promote gender equity and cultural change in your workplace

  • Make checking for gender equity a routine, not a special effort
  • Support cultural and structural change at all levels with training
  • Understand the role organisations and workplaces play in normalising inclusive behaviour and calling out inappropriate behaviours
  • Use a variety of messages to reach people at different levels of understanding
  • Avoid the ‘boys vs girls’ argument by keeping the focus on defining whole-of-organisation values – what sort of culture do you want to promote in your workplace and why?
  • Ensure that women’s voices, needs and experiences are equally heard and valued in your workplace
  • Make sure your community is reflected in your organisational imagery
  • Keep asking yourselves, ‘what are we doing as an organisation to challenge the statistics of violence against women?’

Three-minute equity exercise (courtesy of Dr Jennifer Whelan)

To really get to the root of your organisation’s values and motivations, ask yourselves, ‘what would my organisation look like if it were truly inclusive and equitable?’

Choose one of your answers and bring it back to basics by interrogating your response with a series of ‘why?’ questions. For example, one answer might be, ‘there would be an equal representation of women and men on the board’. Then ask yourself why, ‘why have equal representation on the board?’ And then query that answer, and the answer after it, until you have asked ‘why?’ five times – this exercise helps develop a core understanding of our motivations for change.

This forum was organised by Preventing Violence Together (PVT), the regional partnership and action plan guiding the primary prevention of violence against women in the west. Women’s Health West is the lead agency for PVT.

If you’d like to learn more about what PVT partners are doing in the west, you may be interested to read the progress brief for 2014. The progress brief is designed to inform PVT United partner agencies and other key organisations about progress in the west towards gender equity and the prevention of men’s violence against women.