What a year, but no pause in family violence

As we head into the festive season, there is much reason to celebrate here at McAuley Community Services for Women.

McAuley House, our wonderful new $11m accommodation and support hub in Pickett Street, Footscray, is now open, and women will soon be settling in to their beautiful surroundings with great enthusiasm.

This December newsletter is a celebration of the opening and the people who are part of this story that began four years ago. As well as the opening of our new building, our other services continue to thrive.

McAuley Care, our safe house, continues to open around the clock 365 days of the year thanks to the extraordinary contribution of our dedicated 24/7 Special Events Committee, and our many other supporters such as the Fed Up Lunch team, High Tea hosts, and our volunteers.

We are well underway with planning the roll out of our new employment program and we are working with many different companies to assist women impacted by family violence, homelessness, and or mental illness, find jobs.

Our Court Support 4 Kids program continues to gather pace, with programs in place in family courts in Geelong and Sunshine, and shortly in Ringwood.

It has indeed been a momentous year.

And yet, let’s pause to remember that while the festive season brings excitement, it can also bring distress and anxiety. Even as the women and children gather to decorate Christmas trees at McAuley House and McAuley Care, we often see them struggle as they recall happier times. We are grateful to Melbourne Christmas Trees who donate real trees to our programs so that women and children can create happy memories to take them through the difficult times.

Historically, there used to be a lull in reports of violence over Christmas, as families tried to hold things together for the sake of their children. Now, with the sustained increase in reporting incidents, sadly we expect to be as busy as ever.

Here at McAuley Community Services for Women, we have been planning Christmas parties, a carol service, and on Christmas Day, every woman and child will be given presents which have been donated by you, our supporters. Some will cry. Some will smile. Others are speechless that someone cares enough to give.

As we prepare, I thank you all for your generosity this year, not only in financial donations, but your time, advice, support and guidance.

We wish you all a happy Christmas and festive season.