Mid-September, I spent 2 days in Canberra lobbying in my National FVPLS Convenor role and with Change the Record, which was to call for immediate action to stop mass incarceration and raise the age of criminal responsibility. I shared Djirra's knowledge on the devastating impact that one day in prison has on a woman's life and spoke about the solutions that we know work.
Upon my return, I welcomed Minister Ben Carroll's announcement of additional funding for Djirra's work. This additional funding is testament of the vital and unique work we do at Djirra. We have the solutions. We can change the story for Aboriginal women.
Djirra - Sharing stories, finding solutions
“Ground up” digital storytelling and participatory video
Djirra piloted a new participatory evaluation process alongside the KWP Elders Possum Skin Cloak project.
Working with an agency called Storyscape, Jaynaya, Tahnee, Casey, Kate and Kathryn took part in a training workshop in basic film-making techniques and interview skills. Staff then went on to help produce and edit the beautiful short film which captures the journey and the impact of the possum cloak project.
The film-making process allowed to capture, document and report on Djirra's 'sharing stories, finding solutions' in practice. The Possum Skin Cloak itself being a traditional way of sharing and recording stories, there couldn't have been a better project fit.
The film will be released soon, stay tuned!
The teams in Echuca and Warrnambool are in the process of moving to their new offices. We can't wait to tell you more about it and I'm sure they can't either!
We all welcome:
- Rebecca Hayes as a Paralegal Support Worker in Bairnsdale;
- Tori Stuchbery as a Lawyer in Warrnambool. Tori is backfilling Janelle’s parental leave vacancy;
- Hamza, Lorna and Laura who are all on short term contracts to assist the Corporate Services Team respectively with Compliance, HR and Operations.
Last Tuesday 17th September, Community Engagement facilitated our second Sisters Talk to Aboriginal women working around the state for the Department of Justice and Community Safety.
In the many years of facilitating Sisters Day Out events, we found a gap in our service delivery for those who were unable to attend our workshops due to work commitments. This was an opportunity for our team to close the gap by reaching out to those women.
Instead of the focusing on the wellbeing side of the workshop, we invited Aboriginal women to run activities to celebrate our cultures, values and strengths. These activities involved basket weaving with Donna Blackall, bush bouquets with Janaya from Yarn Strong Sisters, feather art with Aunty Marylyn Nicholls, and gum leaf art and wood burning with Koori Women’s Place.
Anya & Martika from the legal team also attended and participated in the day's activities.
We knew this would be a special Sisters Talk for our community, and it was safe to say that all 47 women who took part in the workshop thoroughly enjoyed the day along with the many cultural activities organised.
The recent announcement by The Hon. Ben Carroll Victorian Minister for Corrections of additional funding for Djirra to employ a Senior Lawyer and two Case Workers to work with Aboriginal women in prison was a significant highlight for Legal Services. The new funding offers significantly enhanced opportunities for Djirra to meet the legal and non-legal needs of Aboriginal women in prison, including post-release. It also represents a welcome recognition of the fantastic work already being undertaken within Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and Tarrengower by the Legal Services and Community Engagement teams.
We were pleased to have Kate and Sandy appear in the most recent addition of Victoria Legal Aid’s external newsletter highlighting the great work being undertaken by AFVLS at Djirra for Aboriginal victim/survivors in the regions. It’s a really great article and will hopefully assist VLA and other legal practitioners to recognise the critical need for referrals to Djirra and other culturally safe and responsive services for Aboriginal victim/survivors across the state. The link to the article is here for those who haven’t already seen it: https://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/about-us/news/supporting-aboriginal-families-to-have-voice
Eulia from Legal and Naya from KWP gave a very well received presentation about Djirra’s services to a large audience of social work staff from the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Emergency Department this month. RMH staff had lots of questions about child protection issues and it was great to have the opportunity to provide some legal education and awareness to hospital staff working with our clients on the front lines. The feedback received included the following reflection: “Their presentation was very informative and gave real insight and practical application into the valuable services Djirra provides - in particular the on the ground support offered to clients around child protection to facilitate children remaining with the client and the positive programs available to allow women to connect with each other while having access to services.” Well done Eulia and Naya on a great collaborative effort.
It is great to now have the new Echuca office up and running! The new office is located at 2/285 High street (there's a good view of the office on Google street view). A huge shout out to Nidhi, Sheadeen and Sandy for their hard work in ensuring a much appreciated efficient transition to the new premises. If you’re in the area, please drop in for a visit with Sandy and Sheadeen to hear all about the challenging work they are doing supporting clients in the Echuca/Shepparton region.
It was great to receive the following feedback in response to a client survey this month in recognition of the fantastic work our Legal staff do in supporting clients.
In response to the question about what would you do if AFVLS didn’t exist the client responded: “I would be in a bad way. Our voices wouldn’t be heard and more at risk of domestic violence”. She also provided feedback that “the service is amazing and helpful” and that she was “very impressed with the professional approach to the situation but also very culturally sensitive at the same time”.
Northcote office updates
Northcote's office presents their new artwork!
First row: Riverside by Arkie Barton; Women’s Gathering - This painting was generously donated by the artist Carly Gorey - Marlena's cousin; it is about women’s business in the dried up river bed of Ross river.
Second row: Vast by Chrissy Meetra; Cummera Colours by Kim Lampton
A few of the highlights were Tracey Westerman’s keynote address on the first day. She spoke about how cultural competency is not vague. It is measurable and so is its impact. At Djirra, we deal with the impact of evaluations every day. These often don’t understand or prioritise what we know works. It was great to hear an expert in the field speak about how we shouldn’t adapt mainstream programs or evaluations. We need to build them from the ground up so that they are culturally and contextually valid.
(click on the picture to enlarge)
Another highlight was seeing Mark Planigale from Lirata present on the work he, Kathryn and Djirra's legal team did in carrying out an evaluation needs assessment. It was definitely one of the more empowering takes on evaluation I saw while I was in Sydney.
Thanks to Kathryn for getting me involved and Claire who wrote the application with me!'
KWP Blanket appeal - it's a wrap
KWP's successful Blanket Appeal exceeded its target of 30 blankets collected over winter. Yay!
Even though the Blanket appeal is officially over, we keep receiving donations. Here is Shanel with a recent donation from the HR department at Australian Catholic University.
Edwards Gammin Café - exhibition
At the Seventh Gallery in Fitzroy - until 4th October
In this exhibition Tahnee Edwards (our Tahnee :-) ) of Gammin Threads has joined forces with her dad, Uncle (Choco) Talgium Edwards, to explore the black history and spirit of Fitzroy and dirty Gerty through their respective mediums including: graphics, installation and wood burning. Drawing not only from Uncle Talgiums personal connection with Fitzroy, but his work on No Jurisdiction, the works will be an opportunity to explore the entitlement of gentrification and reclaim this historically black and working class area.