2014/15 Annual Report Launched
Last year McAuley Community Services for Women supported 1,000 women and children through our services, a far higher number than in previous years.
This is due to a new initiative that we started during the year –our Court Children’s Program – We also know though, that there are a growing number of brave women who are escaping family violence either alone or with their children, and who need services like ours to help them begin a life free from the threat of violence.
Our just released annual report paints a revealing picture of an agile organisation working with real people, each of whom has their own need and their own story. Each woman, each child is more than a statistic. Each person’s story is one of resilience in the face of danger.
Last year we welcomed 28 pregnant women and 68 babies and toddlers into our safe house. This has resulted in our broadening our children’s program with a particular emphasis on building the mother/child bond.
Other trends include an increase in the number of families connected to child protection due to the complexities of family violence and a rise in the use of ICE by both fathers and mothers. The number of women coming into our family violence services without a permanent residency visa is concerning as many are unable to access Centrelink, a health care or Medicare card.
We initiated Victoria’s first Court Children’s Program through funding from the Barr FamilyTrust. The program assists women to complete family violence related legal proceedings and minimise further trauma to children by offering them a safe and positive diversion. Since August last year, 389 children have engaged with the court children’s worker.
At McAuley House, our homelessness service, we have seen a rise in women with chronic mental illness. This highlights the importance of our respite service, our recreation and social programs, and the need to reinstate our outreach work. Of the 78 women who were supported, 71% had been diagnosed with a mental illness, 37% had experienced family violence, and 90% were homeless.
There were many highlights through the year: our submission and subsequent appearance before the Royal Commission into Family Violence; our two significant advocacy Homelessness should never be the safer option campaigns in Federation Square and in the lead up to the Federal election; and media engagements, have all contributed to a growing profile.
Support from philanthropic groups, such as the Baker Foundation, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Impact 100 Melbourne have been critical as we further our work through Engage to Change with employers and staff, our schools, and to evaluate and grow our homelessness services.
This year we have worked with, and reached, many new supporters, each playing a role in raising funds, raising awareness and linking other people in with our work. The inaugural Fed Up Lunch and High Tea Appeal, the success of the 24/7 cocktail party along with other community and school activities are all creating a positive impact within our society.
We encourage you to read our annual report. It showcases our work well. You can either download it from our website, or ring us for a copy.