Applause for Philanthropy

The Barr Family Foundation has been formally recognised by the philanthropy sector for their support of our pioneering Court Support 4 Kids program. The Foundation, together with John Dyson and Rose Gilder (Trustees of the Dyson Bequest in recognition of their leadership in the area of gender equity initiatives for female scientists), were awarded Philanthropy Australia’s Gender-wise award.

McAuley Community Services for Women, with funding from the Barr Family Foundation, engaged an experienced social worker to run this pioneering outreach service. It is an extension of the organisation’s children’s program that uses play therapy as one of its service responses to help children begin to express their feelings about what has happened to them and their family.

The program, which started in 2014, enabled over 100 women to obtain their intervention orders in court. Without this program many of the women, who have children, would not have been able to go through the court process.

Jocelyn Bignold, CEO of McAuley said: “The Barr Family Foundation has a deep commitment to women’s issues. They saw a need in an unglamorous and unobvious place and sought to fill it by placing trust in our knowledge and experience of what women and children need at a particularly vulnerable time.”

“This funding recognises the vital importance of unimpeded access to legal support services for the many women affected by family violence,” she said.

“Getting an intervention order in place before a woman leaves our services is always high on the agenda, as is support for children who have already been through enough and need space to play and be kids,” Ms Bignold said.

From August 2014 to July 2015, the social worker supported 393 children and young people three days a week. On average six women attended court alone each week with children and relied on the program to complete their intervention order. Young people aged 16, who are applying for an intervention order, have used the program as well.

The Court Support 4 Kids program places children at the heart of what is a difficult time for mums. We have developed the service using our expertise and experience of working with children and their mothers.

As the program has shown so far, it is also plugging a significant gap in services. This includes enabling women to access critical safety information and risk assessments at court, as well as better legal support.

Partners for the Gender-wise Award included FIIG Securities and the Australian Women Donors Network.

McAuley Community Services for Women acknowledges the extraordinary support for its programs from philanthropic foundations and individuals.