From the CEO

I never cease to be amazed by the generosity of our supporters, not just financially but also in goodwill and keen interest in our work.

This spirit is always highlighted at the 24/7 cocktail party where supporters and friends turn up to raise funds, and to offer advice, in-kind support and open doors to help us further our advocacy on behalf of the women and children we assist.

There are so many other examples, too. The Twelve Batmitzvah Program, where girls and their parents come together to provide gifts for the women in McAuley House and McAuley Care on Mother’s Day and IMPACT’s Bags of Love program which sees volunteers pack beautiful red bags also for the women we assist. Shortly, we will launch our #HighTeaAppeal2017 which will see business and community groups around Victoria hold high teas to support our work.

This year has also seen our supporters galvanised into supporting our advocacy work. When we put out the call for people to write to their politicians and to Federal Ministers about the need for secured and ongoing funding for homelessness services, the response was extraordinary. Our supporters phoned, wrote emails and sent teddy bears to Canberra with the clear message: Homelessness should never be the safer option.

Through the federal budget, the Australian government has committed to developing a new 3 year National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness

This new agreement will priorities people experiencing family violence and young people, which we welcome, These are two groups in urgent need and adequate funding will help to prevent intergenerational homelessness.

.The result means that hundreds of thousands of people who are in crisis will keep getting the support and access to housing they need to live their lives and build a better future. There is still some way to go but it is a good start. However, we strongly urge that adequate funding is given to all Australians who are homeless.

In this newsletter, you will read many stories about our work for women and children in our family violence and homelessness services. Many of the stories are about programs that we have pioneered, such as the Children’s Program and Court Support for Kids because we know from direct experience what children and mothers require.

One of the biggest challenges remaining is changing attitudes towards women, and the belief that we have come a long way in addressing the gender divide. We haven’t. This is one of the reasons we initiated Engage to Change, our education program for employers.

Changing attitudes is at the heart of the next step of the Victorian Government’s family violence reform. Free from Violence: Victoria’s Strategy to Prevent Family Violence and All Forms of Violence Against Women sets out the path for all Victorians to experience equality and respect in their homes, workplaces and communities.

We were pleased when the Premier and Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings, chose to launch the governments new reform package at McAuley House. It was affirmation of our work, and it also gave the Premier the opportunity to talk to women who have been directly affected by homelessness because of family violence.

Finally, I would like to thank all our volunteers who work with us, 52 weeks a year, to make the lives of women escaping family violence, better than it is.