16 days of activism against gender-based violence: spotlight on violence against Indigenous women and girls

Dani is a proud Aboriginal woman and taught her children parts of the language from her family’s country of origin that had been taught to her by her grandmother. Dani’s grandmother was a member of the stolen generation and Dani and her mother were also removed from their family at different times during their childhood.

Dani’s story details what the work, commitment and conviction of women and their McAuley Care support team can achieve in this incredibly short time frame.

Having already had one child removed by child protection, Dani faced a choice of coming into a refuge with her other children and undertaking not to see her former abusive partner, or relinquishing all children.

Dani chose her children and refuge and set about doing what was necessary to keep them all together safely.

And there was much to do: finding a safe police station to report into; identifying a suitable location for drug screening; enrolling children into new schools complete with uniforms and books; working with a children’s therapist to support the children’s needs; learning the power and control dynamics behind the violence; engaging a lawyer to manage criminal matters; finding suitable housing; and using the flexible support packages to furnish her new home.

McAuley Care staff were with her every step of the way encouraging, referring, helping to line up the necessary supports and arrangements.

The road was not an easy one. There is a shortage of suitable legal aid available to represent women.

Changing the police station to one in a safe area that was more easily accessible proved to be almost impossible.

Weeks were filled with child protection meetings and hearings. Dani experienced extreme anxiety and depression making it difficult for her to cope. In the most difficult times Dani said her children were what kept her going.

The long term home they eventually moved to was in an area the family were not familiar with and far away from any one they knew. The family moved into their new home with a mixture of nervousness and excitement.

Despite the many challenges, Dani showed great strength, courage and resilience. In this short space of time, Dani and her family went from no housing to safe long term housing, the children established routines and now attend school regularly. Dani no longer uses drugs, criminal charges against her were dropped, and a re-unification order was granted for the child in out of home care. Dani engaged with her new community, began volunteering at a local café, and established connection with the local Aboriginal community.

Dani gained increased confidence in mothering and this led to an improvement for the whole family.

A life was changed in two and a half months due to a family’s determination, safe accommodation in a refuge, a dedicated team, and the right interventions.