News and Events

There is no way I could have done this alone

FV Services blog_Jan16_finalSarah* lives in Melbourne’s west, she is a victim of family violence. Read a short story about Sarah and how she got the support she needed…

Sarah’s husband abused her emotionally and psychologically throughout their ten-year marriage and threatened to kill her if she tried to leave.


When he seriously assaulted Sarah, Victoria Police applied for an intervention order on her behalf and she was granted a one-year intervention order.

A Women’s Health West case worker developed strategies to keep Sarah and her children safe, including working with police to implement the extreme risk client strategy to manage her risk and ensure their safety.


Sarah’s ex-partner’s relatives harassed Sarah at court so her case worker arranged for her to give evidence via video link and put her in touch with a community legal centre that organised a barrister for her. Sarah was granted a full three-year extension of the intervention order.


*Not her real name

If you are a victim of family violence, there are many services that can support you, you are not alone:

Check out our Who can help me page or download our Family Violence Crisis Outreach brochure

Key contacts:
Women’s Health West: 9689 9588
Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre: 1800 015 188



What’s on @Women’s Health West in 2016

Lead on jumpYoung women’s leadership, community advocacy, human rights and carers support are some of the focus areas of our projects in 2016. Here’s a handful of programs you can get involved in this year. If you need more information please call us and email us, we’d love to help you out.


Lead On Again

Who’s it for: Culturally and linguistically diverse young women aged 16-24, studying, living or working in the western region of Melbourne
What’s it about: This free, six-day leadership program allows young women to make friends while:

  • Participating in workshops on topics including public speaking, healthy relationships, mental health, media and self confidence
  • Learning about event management and planning an exciting event for the end of the program
  • Being supported to participate in community and leadership activities in the future

Details:  18-22 January (9.30am – 4.00pm) and 25 January (11.00am – 4.00pm) 2016
Who to contact: Nirvana via email or call on 8379 9041

Young African Women’s Project

Who’s it for: Young African women who live, work or study in ‪#‎Melbswest‬!
What’s it about:  Learn about sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing, and build your confidence in leadership and advocacy.

Who to contact: Call Shukria on 03 9689 9588 for more details about joining this great project running in January


Our Community Our Rights

Who’s it for: Muslim women from the Horn of Africa living in Melbourne’s west
What is it about:  The women who participate in this project will:

  • Receive human rights-based advocacy training
  • Be supported to manage their own community advocacy projects
  • Develop skills, knowledge and connections that will assist them to take up further employment, study or volunteering opportunities
  • Be reimbursed for their time and travel. Free childminding will also be provided if needed.

Where: Somewhere central for participants (tell us what works for you)
Who to contact: Call Susan on 9689 9588 or send an email


Sunrise Women’s Group

Who’s it for: Women of all ages living with a disability and/or mental illness
What is it about: It’s a fortnightly social and supportive get together to help women feel connected

We also have a new Sunrise Women Carers Group in Melton, open to women who care for someone with a disability, mental illness and/or chronic health condition.

Where: Laverton, Melton, Sunshine and Wyndham
Who to contact: call Lauren on 9689 9588 or send her an email.

Every action matters

Action countsA group of men from Preventing Violence Together partner organisations met in July 2015 to discuss their experiences as men taking action to prevent violence against women. Written for whw news edition 3 – 2015, they shared the journey they’ve taken to understand men’s violence against women as encompassing unequal power relations between men and women, emanating from gender inequality. 

As members of the Preventing Violence Together partnership, we have had the opportunity to discuss violence, gender inequality and male privilege at length with colleagues. We have also had the opportunity of having in-depth discussions with women working in preventing men’s violence against women, enriching our learning and professional development with insights that other men have been rarely afforded.

Most men we talk to oppose violence against women, but this view does not always translate into action to prevent violence.

It is our belief that two barriers, both related to language, hinder most men from engaging in activities to prevent violence against women. The first barrier relates to understanding that all men can play a role in preventing violence against women. When we talk with some men about the importance of being involved in preventing violence against women, we are so often met with two responses: ‘I am not violent, why do I need to act?’ and ‘I do not know what you are asking me to do’.

The links between gender equity and preventing violence against women are complex, with gender inequities creating an environment for violence to occur. However, this link often runs counter to the personal experience of men we talk to. All have grown up in gendered environments, but not all men choose to use violence. Answering the question ‘what causes violence against women?’, and giving men the capacity and confidence to make changes in their everyday lives is not an easy task.

The second barrier is balancing language that doesn’t shy away from the issue, with language that encourages and supports participation.

Quite rightly, we use the phrase ‘men’s violence against women’ and encourage men to take ownership over the problem. This recognises that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of violence, and that men have been afforded unequal positions of power in our society. Despite this, we have found when we talk to men who have never committed violence and use language that seeks to encourage ownership, we force our audience to make a challenging decision – will I confront this as an issue for all men or, because I’ve never been violent and I don’t see the links you’re referring to will I choose to stay disengaged? When talking to men outside of the health and community sector we find that many choose the easier option.

We believe that taking ownership over the issue is not as simple as an opting in or out at a single point in time. Eliminating violence against women is a long-term prospect, meaning that building strong community involvement will be more like a marathon than a sprint. For this reason, we need to be prepared to engage men where they are in order to build the support to get where we want to be as a society.

In this issue, the journey from superficial engagement to comprehensive understanding starts with small, every day actions that build to longer term engagement and, ultimately, a change across our community. Participation in change occurs across a continuum – from being placated or informed, through to partnering and leading.

For every man who makes a public stand to promote gender equity and prevent men’s violence against women, there are many more that contribute in smaller ways. Whether it’s husbands and partners who break gender stereotypes in the home, or the sports coaches who challenge sexist jokes in their clubs and set a culture of respect for teams to abide by, these ideas and contributions, however small, should be encouraged and seen as important steps on a journey to move men from a position of participation to one of leadership.

One in three women will experience violence at some point in their life. That means that, whether they know it or not, most men will come into contact with a woman who has experienced violence.

With an issue of the size and breadth as violence against women, men cannot simply choose whether or not to be involved – we are all involved. The real choice is what that involvement will be. Our objective is to engage other men, to help them identify ways to confront gender inequity and oppose violence to women, and to make small everyday contributions that can grow into leadership. We invite other men to join us.

The authors

This article was written by: James Dunne (HealthWest Partnership), Nuredin Hassan (ISIS Primary Care), Cuong La (HealthWest Partnership), Peter Crowley (Moonee Valley City Council) and Samuel Muchoki (Brimbank City Council)

Read more stories and get the latest news about Women’s Health West in whw news.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of organisations mentioned.

It’s not something that will slowly fix itself

Mark Williams_blog

By Mark Williams, 16 Days Activist

Initially I thought I’d do the 16 Days Activist Challenge to help out a friend. She is working on the challenge and she does such good work, so I like to support her wherever I can.

Then after reading some information on the net and actually doing different parts of the challenge that have come up so far, I’ve found that it’s not just an issue perpetrated by a handful of people. It’s a much bigger issue than I imagined. It truly is something that needs more attention, and most definitely needs more men to take responsibility for the issue.

Now, I believe that I really am taking the challenge to positively improve the lives of people around me, and to help myself to be able to raise a child who will embrace the same positive values. I also believe it is important to work together to help lessen and, in a perfect world, eradicate violence against women. As most of these crimes happen behind closed doors, I imagine people believe it doesn’t happen as often as it does.

Until men are taught that violence is never an acceptable way to deal with any issue, we are not going to solve our problem. Having more people speak out and take action against men’s violence against women, this will hopefully bring increased awareness to the issue and, I hope, give people the strength and courage to stand up for themselves and others when violence happens.

As a man who works in a predominantly male organisation, I feel I have an obligation to talk to the people I work with about the issue.

For Action 5 of the 16 Days Activist Challenge, I’ve read a bit about the Bechdel test and had the guys I work with look at some movies to see how bad it is for women in the film industry. I think that was a good one to start with, as most people like watching movies and it’s a relatively easy one to get other people involved in. I have used the Bechdel test to get the conversation going a few times and then often led the chat into gender equality.

I’m mainly hoping to get people to start thinking about where our issues are coming from, and not just thinking that it is something that will slowly fix itself.


The Preventing Violence Together (PVT) partnership’s 16 Days Activist Challenge runs from 25 November to 10 December 2015.

JOIN Mark as a #16DaysActivist, it’s not to late to take the challenge!
SHARE your #16DaysActivist – send to info@whwest.org.au

Because it’s not acceptable

Final Pic

By Lucy Padula, 16 Days Activist

I am doing the 16 Days Activist Challenge because it is an absolute necessity and it is something we should be unconsciously doing 365 days a year. According to VicHealth, family violence is the leading preventable contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15–44, being responsible for more of the disease burden than many well-known risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.

This is not acceptable

Although talking about violence against women is important, talk alone will not change this. There is so much in the media about family violence, but little about services available to assist women and children. It is for this reason, and the upcoming UN-declared International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women, that I have decided to run two events to raise funds for Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre, as part of my #16DaysActivist Challenge. I invite one and all to come along.


The theme of these events is “Empower Me”:

1. “Empower Me information session day” Friday 27 November
2. “Empower Me Family Fun Day” on 29 November 2015

I believe that knowledge is power. At the Empower Me Information Session Day there will be numerous speakers, including myself running 30 minute presentations about various matters including: – practical steps to take if you are separating, preparing for family dispute resolution (to discuss care arrangements for children), family violence and intervention orders, Xero for small business, dealing with anxiety and the path to financial independence. The fee for each session will be $20 with all profits going to Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre.

The Empower Me Family Fun Day is about bringing the community together in saying no to violence. It is about raising funds and awareness for Safe Steps. The more awareness that is raised, the more likely it is that a woman and child’s life could change for the better becoming aware of services available to help them. There will be lots of fun activities for the children on the day including dance class, play based learning, art classes, fairy floss among other things

As Malcolm X stated, ‘when “i” is replaced with “we” even illness becomes wellness’. Change can happen, but WE must ALL raise our voices AND act. Talking alone is not enough. Do something. Get involved. Come along to the Empower Me Information Session and learn something, and refer the day to someone who may benefit from it. Show your support at the Empower Me Family Fun Day.


There’s a few ways you can get involved:

  1. Go to the Empower Me events
  2. Check out her Empower Me Facebook page
  3. Find out more and register for events at her website


The Preventing Violence Together (PVT) partnership’s 16 Days Activist Challenge runs from 25 November to 10 December 2015. Take the challenge and be a part of the #16DaysActivist conversation

Lucy Padula is an accredited family lawyer based in Melbourne’s west.