Catherine Circle off to a thriving start

The power of giving circles came true at the launch of the Catherine Circle in late June. Over 30 people, including foundation members, gathered at 346 Church for the formal launch of McAuley’s own giving circle. Keynote speaker was Louise Doyle (pictured), CEO of the Besen Family Foundation.

Two projects were presented to the 10 Foundation members to vote on. They were:

Safe at Home 

Many women, who have been abused by a partner, leave the home to keep themselves, and their children safe. The perpetrator, in most cases, remains in the home.

About 250 women and 250 children come through the doors of McAuley Care Crisis service each year. When the women leave our safe house, or their own home, they can go to a refuge (6 - 12 weeks secure accommodation) or into private rental (high cost, potentially unsustainable).

When is it Safe at Home for a woman who has been abused?

That’s what we will find out through funding from The Catherine Circle members and The Besen Foundation.

McAuley Works Review

Women need an income to have a chance of rebuilding their lives after family violence.

Research has shown that in order for women to have a chance to successfully leave family violence behind them, there are several main things that must be achieved, including financial independence, which can come from being employed.

Many women lose, or leave, their jobs because they are harassed at work by an abusive partner, need a lot of time off to recover from physical or mental abuse injuries or have difficulties coping in the workplace. Without an income they are trapped and have little way of establishing a new home if they leave.

The Catherine Circle funding means we can go back to the women who were part of our employment program, find out what worked and how we canrefine the program to achieve better employment outcomes for women.

While Safe@Home won the vote, an anonymous donor stepped forward to fund the McAuley Works project in full. Read more about the two projects.

Penny Underwood, Communications and Advocacy for McAuley Community Services for Women, said: “The evening exceeded all our expectations, and demonstrated in a real way how giving circles work to connect people with a passion about causes.

“By providing people with the chance to hear and ask questions about how their investment was going to make a difference, the reality is that people begin to understand much more about the link between family violence and homelessness.”

Both projects were very much focussed on learning more about how and what McAuley Community Services for Women can do to support women escaping family violence, whether it is staying at home rather than become homeless, or maintain employment.

“Evidence-based research is all the trend but McAuley tests the evidence to determine whether a program or thought is working,” said Ms Underwood.

Learnings from both projects will be shared with Catherine Circle members and others who are interested in joining. As critically, the lessons will be published and presented to the wider community sector and shared with the Victorian Government’s Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce.

“Safe@Home was highlighted in the Royal Commission into Family Violence’s findings and it was our main recommendation in our submission. We know the concept works well in the UK, partly because of legislation. What we also know is that much more needs to be done here to make it work well,” said Ms Underwood.

The Catherine Circle is made up of a group of people who are passionate about supporting McAuley Community Services for Women and its works with women who are homeless as well as women and children experiencing family violence.

There are two forms of membership: individual and group.In both instances, the annual ‘give’ is $1,000 with a commitment to giving for three years.There are three events in each year to which Catherine Circle members will be invited: including International Women’s Day event and the June voting event.

For more information about the Catherine Circle and to join.