After more than 17 years working continuously at Djirra, I have decided to take time out for a couple of months commencing on the 6th of July and returning on the 7th of September. The Djirra Board fully supports this move recognising that this is a timely decision, especially given that our most recent addition to the Djirra team is Antoinette Gentile who is eminently qualified to act in my CEO role during my absence.
Antoinette Gentile is a Yorta Yorta woman who has extensive experience working in the Victorian public sector. Antoinette led the Koori Justice Unit in the Department of Justice and Community Safety for 19 years during which time, among other projects, she oversaw the implementation of the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement. Djirra is very fortunate to have secured Antoinette’s services to step into my role while I take this break.
Antoinette Gentile will work closely with Annie Nash our Director of Strategy and Operations - another great asset to Djirra. Together this A Team will keep us connected, visible and strong, not only within our communities but with our supporters and funders as well. The Board and I know, that in my absence, Djirra will continue to provide Aboriginal women with wide-ranging culturally safe services built upon strong foundations of self-determination, celebration of culture and respect for women’s business.
Despite the many challenges that the past six months have presented, Djirra’s priority has remained unchanged – the safety of our women and children.
During this tough time, our teams have been responsive and innovative in creating diverse ways to keep us connected and visible to Aboriginal women. We are myth busting the idea that Aboriginal women cannot or will not connect via technology.
We have a comprehensive and ever changing program of online workshops from damper making to basket weaving and everything in between. We utilise digital technology to reach out to women needing practical support, always with safety uppermost in our design and delivery. Daily our Aboriginal staff pick up the phone just to check in with our sisters and our telephone counselling service which ramped up considerably in June is now heavily booked.
We have seen that one in five women who have opened a legal matter at Djirra are experiencing family violence that has been triggered or made worse by COVID-19.Our priority remains the safety of our women and our service planning is evolving in response to changing external circumstances. During July, Djirra’s Intensive Support Services team will commence delivering case management working alongside the Djirra legal program and our Koori Women’s Place.
ROLL ON SEPTEMBER
Even as I start thinking about being away, I’m excited at what I know will be new developments at Djirra by September. The growth in services, the flexibility and commitment of the Djirra staff to be inventive and culturally responsive programs and the inevitable stories of how our women demonstrate their resilience, ingenuity and determination to keep their families and communities safe is a continual source of inspiration. It is difficult to be away from and I look forward to seeing you all later in the year
DJIRRA’S KEY MESSAGE TO OUR WOMEN AND COMMUNITIES
We hear you, we are here for you. Your safety is our priority. Our doors may be closed, but we are just at the end of the phone on 1800 105 303
STAY CONNECTED - STAY WITH US
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