This is my first message as the Acting Chief Executive Officer. For those who don’t know me, I’m a proud Wollithiga woman of the Yorta Yorta Nations. I grew up in Broadmeadows, Victoria and I am one of 11 children. Prior to coming to Djirra, I was the Director of the Koori Justice Unit in the Department of Justice and Community Safety with responsibility for the implementation of Burra Lotjpa Dunguludja (Senior Leaders Talking Strong in Yorta Yorta language) - Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement Phase 4.
I’m so proud to have this opportunity to be working at Djirra and being part of an amazing group of people dedicated to improving outcomes for our Aboriginal women.
So much has happened since I commenced at Djirra in May this year with the impact of COVID-19 affecting every one of us in some way. With the return of Stage 3 restrictions across Victoria and the implementation of Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne, my heart goes out to our mob/Community who are doing it really tough.
We have all heard about the devastating impact COVID is having on the Victorian community and the loss of many people as a result of it’s spread. The number of our mob affected by COVID is increasing. We need to remember that this is not just an old person’s illness. It is affecting many of our younger mob as well. That’s why we need to make sure we all wear a mask when we are out and about. Not just because you can be fined for not wearing one, it’s about making sure we look after ourselves, our Elders and our mob during this time.
COVID has made working face to face with our Aboriginal women impossible and has posed many challenges. Despite these challenges, Djirra has adapted to the changing environment and found other innovative ways to make sure we stay connected.
DJIRRA’S KEY MESSAGE TO OUR WOMEN AND COMMUNITIES
If you are worried about your safety, you can leave your house to escape family violence - even with Stage 4 restrictions in place and during the curfew hours of 8pm-5am. You will not be fined. Supports are always available for you.
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.
FREE ONLINE WORKSHOPS AT OUR KOORI WOMEN’S PLACE
We know how important it is for our mob to stay connected, have a yarn or be able to catch up and support each other so Djirra has found new ways to come together, strong and proud in our culture.
Our Koori Women’s Place has held a number of online workshops during June and July with activities including basket weaving, Thai cooking, goal setting and vision planning, just to name a few. There are more workshops scheduled for August and September so get on our website or Facebook and enrol for one (or all) of them. Our wonderful Koori Women’s Place staff will even arrange for the materials you need for our cultural arts workshops to be delivered to your home.
Our women have told us that connecting with our Koori Women’s Place online has made them feel connected to culture and helped with their mental health. It’s something positive in a pretty dark time so make sure you share the information about the workshops with other Aboriginal women in your circle. If you’re struggling, please pick up the phone and call Djirra on free call 1800 105 303 for phone counselling or a yarn during the day – and if you need to talk to someone outside business hours call the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service on 1800 95 95 63 – they’re doing a great job with a phone counselling Yarning SafeNStrong that operates 24 hours a day and they will also link you in with whatever support you need. For urgent support, call SafeSteps on 1800 015 188 and if you have any concern for your safety, we encourage you to call the Police by dialing 000.
Djirra’s policy and advocacy work drives systemic change to improve Aboriginal women’s access to justice, safety and equality. In July, we contributed our expertise to two important government inquiries, to ensure the voices of our women are heard at the State and Federal government level.
Djirra’s submission to the Family Violence Reforms Implementation Monitor will be used to identify progress and areas requiring further attention in the implementation of Victoria’s family violence reforms. You can read our submission here.
Djirra’s submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence will inform the next National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. You can read it here.
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