CEO message November 2018

Our annual report for 2017/2018 shows that we supported 1375 women and children; but behind these statistics the report also brings to life their voices and their lived experience.

We hear from Diana, who says that even two years after leaving a violent relationship, she and her family felt like they were ‘in quicksand’: McAuley’s integrated approach meant that, finally, ‘all the jigsaw pieces came together.’

We hear from the women who leave messages in the guest book in our safe house, encouraging others, saying that they ‘are never as alone as they feel’ in those first days after leaving a violent relationship. We also hear children’s voices; in one of the saddest comments, one expressed the fear that he ‘will turn out to be bad’ like his father. And from Mandy, who lived in McAuley House for two years and now returns to volunteer, and says: ‘This is the first home I have had that I can come back to.’

The annual report also introduces our strategic plan for the next five years. Given that we have just celebrated our tenth anniversary, the time was right for us to reset as an organisation: with a new vision and mission. 

In Children’s Week we launched an evaluation of our Court Support 4 Kids program, carried out by the RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice. We were honoured to have Felicity Broughton, Deputy Chief Magistrate, and Liana Buchanan, Commissioner for Children and Young People, speak at the launch.

(Pictured at right: L to R: Jocelyn Bignold, Liana Buchanan, Felicity Broughton).

We are particularly proud of this program. It’s an example of a creative and innovative response to an issue that we identified, that was keeping women from getting the legal protection they needed. It came about when our staff noticed that women frequently had no alternative but to bring their children along to court – a place not just unsuitable but potentially traumatic.

From this observation we developed the program, which provides a children’s worker to play with and distract children, allowing their mothers time and space to focus on getting legal protections in place.

Meanwhile, as we continue our work supporting women and children leaving abusive relationships, the overall picture of where we are at as a community in dealing with family violence remains bleak. Nine women were killed in October alone; this year, at the start of November, 59 women had been murdered, already surpassing the number for the full 12 months of 2017. It is a terrible reminder, if any were needed, that efforts to eradicate family violence still have a huge way to go.