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News and Events

New funding secured to deliver whole-of-family support

We are delighted to announce that we have secured funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to provide a new innovative service, called ‘Keeping Safe Together’. The program will provide intensive therapeutic support for women, children and their families experiencing family violence. The program will be co-led with Lifeworks, and a number of other agencies, including the Bouverie Centre.

Keeping Safe Together is a Victorian – if not an Australian – first, in that it will provide support for whole families wanting to stay safe and live a life free from violence: currently a gap in available services. This new evidence-based, multidisciplinary approach will focus on the specific individual support needs of each member of the family, including men who use violence.

Keeping Safe Together will aim to deliver services on a flexible basis, including outside of business hours; a vital way of increasing access to the services, and engaging with a diverse range of families.

Keeping Safe Together will initially be delivered as a pilot program in both Melton and Wyndham, and will be implemented through collaboration with a range of service providers across Melbourne’s western region.

We have listened to the voices of women who want assistance for not only themselves, but for their children, and their partners or ex-partners. We are pleased that we will finally be able to offer a holistic and intensive program, which will work to ensure that women and their families can live safe and healthy lives in Melbourne’s west.

Keep an eye on our website for information about the program as it develops:  including eligibility guidelines and timeframes for referrals being accepted into this new program.

We are currently recruiting a project manager for this new program – visit our ‘Work with Us’ page to find out more.

Family Violence Community Information Sessions

The Women’s Health West family violence team is running a series of community information sessions for service providers and community members in Melbourne’s western region, who are wanting to find out more about our family violence services.
 
Sessions are free and will take place bimonthly at our Footscray office (317-319 Barkly Street).
Please note that these sessions are filling fast, so please RSVP to avoid disappointment.
 
For more information or to RSVP contact Sarah on sarahp@whwest.org.au or phone (03) 9689 9588.

Consultant sought for integrated health promotion planning

Women’s Health West are seeking a consultant to design and deliver a consultation process. The process will inform the development of Women’s Health West’s four year integrated health promotion (IHP) plan 2017- 2021.

Consultation will be undertaken with communities of interest and will include the design, delivery and analysis of a survey and three workshops.

Read the consultancy brief here (.pdf file). 

Applications close at 5pm, Friday 5 May 2017. Have a look through the brief, forward to your contacts, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you require further information.

Notification of our AGM

Women’s Health West’s Annual General Meeting is to be held Wednesday 16 November, 2016 at 4.00pm (for 4.30pm start).

 Location: Footscray Community Arts Centre, Performance Space and Foyer, 45 Moreland Street, Footscray

 

The annual general meeting of Women’s Health West Inc will be held on Wednesday 16 November 2016 from 4.00pm at Footscray Community Arts Centre, 45 Moreland Street, Footscray.

The annual general meeting will receive previous minutes and reports and conduct the election of board directors.

Section 9.2 of the constitution provides for up to nine positions on the board.  This year, there will be three directors nominating for re-election, two directors nominating as co-opted members and three continuing directors. No vacancies have been declared.

Those board directors re-nominating or whose term continues for another year are:

  • Lara Rafferty (continuing)
  • Samantha Merrigan (re-nominating)
  • Catherine Harding (re-nominating)
  • Nicola Rabot (re-nominating)
  • Maria Di Gregorio (continuing)
  • Mimmie Ngum Chi Watts (continuing)
  • Leharna Black (nominating as a co-opted member)
  • Elaine Montegriffo (nominating as a co-opted member)

Expression of interest from eligible members for positions on the board is welcomed.

Information to support your expression of interest is attached.  For further information please see the Women’s Health West website at www.whwest.org.au or contact Sam Merrigan via Women’s Health West on 9689 9588.

If you are unsure of your membership status please contact Gert Geyer on 9689 9588 or gert@whwest.org.au

Get your free tickets to our AGM and Annual Conversation.

Download the agm_invite_2016

Joan’s Place: a safe space for women and children of Melbourne’s west

Joansplace_spread‘Joan’s Place’ is a refuge for women and their children who are experiencing family violence. Joan’s Place has been around since 1982, and Women’s Health West took over its management in 2004.

‘Joan’s Place’ is named after the late Joan Kirner, former Victorian Premier and staunch women’s rights advocate, and is one of two women’s refuges in the west.

There is growing demand for access with more than 120 women and children staying at Joan’s Place each year. At the refuge, women and children can access specialist services that support families to create a new life free from violence.

Petra and her three children* experienced family violence for more than ten years. Recently she and her children found refuge at Joan’s Place. She spoke to Christine, our Communications Manager, about how staying at the refuge helped her and her children start again. 

This story was originally written for whw news Edition 2 2016.

Christine: How did you feel when you arrived at the refuge?

Petra: I was scared and stressed, but I felt we were safe. The kids were confused, and after I spoke to them and they saw the environment they understood this was going to be a safe house. It took a while for them to be happy.

Christine: Can you describe your life at the refuge?

Petra: I was there for about two months. I shared one room with the kids. There were bunk beds for the kids and it was hard to put them to sleep. Sometimes they didn’t want to go to bed, because they had fear in them, they wondered if everything is going to be okay. My kids tended to act out, rather than talk about it. They would be really silly and screaming. Sometimes I had to bribe them to go to bed because there were three other families living in the rooms next door.

There are four families living together in one house. It is very difficult to share a house at a time when we all have our own personal stress.

It would be great if we had access to a separate unit, even a one bedroom unit, with your own small kitchen. It would allow you to have privacy and not worry that you are disturbing anyone. I was the one with the most kids and so we created a lot of noise. Sometimes my children kept people up because they would not go to bed. Sharing the bathroom was hard. My youngest daughter didn’t want to go; I would bribe her just to have a shower.

I did use a lot of services available at the refuge and through Women’s Health West. It was easy to access support that helped me deal with my situation.

Christine: How did having access to specialist family violence staff help you and your children?

Petra: Mishelle, the children’s support worker, was a very good help. They have a room for the kids at the refuge where they can do after school activities. She spent time with them and did a lot of activities there. This really made them happy. You can see they feel safe.

I would talk to my social worker, Amanda, about the kids. They didn’t want to go to school because they worried something would happen to me while they were gone. Having access to people like Amanda, and counsellors, makes you feel stronger, because you know there is support for you. You feel like you can get somewhere.

I did seek counselling for my children while at the refuge and after we moved out. They were happy to see the counsellors at Women’s Health West. Sometimes they couldn’t wait to be there. It took a couple weeks to make a difference, but they were happy. The children’s counsellors also helped if I was having trouble with the kids. They gave me some ideas.

Christine: How did you change while you were in refuge?

Petra: For me as a mother of three, waking up and sending them to school and coming back to the refuge, I could start seeing myself. I could brush my teeth, brush my hair, look in the mirror. Before, I could not even look at myself, because I was with the violence and dealing with that. You remember you are a human too, so it was time to look after myself. I felt I was alive again.

Christine: How did Women’s Health West family violence staff prepare you for life outside the refuge?

Petra: When I was at the refuge I started thinking about things I could do. I had a conversation with Amanda saying I wanted more from my life. When I left the refuge I started a course in children’s services.

They helped me find a house. It’s tough to figure out where you are going to go and you have no money. But with my social worker’s help it became possible. We have been living in the same house now for eight months.

Christine: How is life for you and your family now?

Petra: When I got married I had confidence, but then living with him I lost it, because he always cut me down. I was blank, I had no answers. My family would try and tell me what to do and ways they can help, but I wasn’t all there. It was like I had nothing to say. Now I’m out there telling people what I’m doing, what I need.

You think your ex might not find you but one time he did. I went to the police station straight away. I learnt that there are services, you don’t have to live with it. I worked with my social worker and I have a safety plan, I know what I need to do.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and I am proud. I think about where I was and where I am now. I am doing a course, I have a home, I am moving on with the kids.

*Some details have been changed for safety reasons.

Click here for more stories on our programs, services and sector and the latest Women’s Health West news.

Find our more information about our family violence response and support services.