Wellsprings for Women
Wellspring means an abundant source of something. Wellsprings for Women lives up to its name by being an abundant source of support, education, joy and comfort to women, most of whom are migrant, refugees or asylum seekers as well as women who are either experiencing family violence or recovering from previous traumatic circumstances.
Over forty programs engage women on a weekly basis across Dandenong, Casey and Cardinia areas.
The core programs include English lessons at various levels, computer classes, sewing, art and craft, gardening, cycling, support groups for grandmothers and more. We also provide courses such as "Introduction to Community Services", "Creative Enterprising Women", "Public Speaking" and "Learning, Living, Belonging".
We continue to offer our Home Visitation and Mentoring programs, reaching out to women facing complex challenges including mental health, isolation, anxiety and family violence.
We are currently operating with 14 staff, and over 80 volunteers. Our Board of Management, chaired by Janet Cribbes, consists of 7 Board members.
Women’s Health and Safety
In 2017 Wellsprings established a new Program on Women’s Health and Safety, which enabled us to design and deliver a series of educational sessions aimed at preventing family violence from occurring in the first place. This meant introducing our participants to concepts of gender equity, respectful relationships, family safety, and domestic violence in all its forms, plus informing the women of where to get help should they ever need it.
Our increased engagement with women experiencing family violence and who were not ready to be referred to specialised response agencies, prompted us to consider our role more carefully in light of our duty of care towards the women who do disclose. As we have focused more on prevention and early intervention, we found that many of our participants in precarious circumstances expected us, to continue supporting them until they were ready to be referred elsewhere and even during and throughout the referral process. We approached the R E Ross Trust and discussed our need as an organisation to build our capacity to offer our participants the duty of care they need. We also needed to upskill our staff and volunteers on recognising family violence signs and responding appropriately to disclosures. We are thrilled that the R E Ross Trust have approved our grant application for the next two years to undertake this very important work.
Working with Men
Our participants have also constantly reminded us that education on prevention of violence against women cannot happen without men’s engagement and contribution. Following a series of consultation and exploration on how as a women-only organisation can we engage men and what would be our role, we started a consultative men’s group, meeting outside our normal operating hours. It is work in progress and we are taking small steps as we venture into this new territory. The exciting part of this project is that we applied to Melbourne University and got accepted into their Community Fellows program to conduct research on the Impact of Migration on Migrant and Refugee Men’s Role, and Gender Identity. This project which will be carried out in 2019 will give us excellent insight into the experiences and adjustments made by men as they adapt to new country and new expectations regarding their role and changes to family dynamics. The knowledge gained from this project will be incorporated into the education sessions we are delivering to women. We will also continue to work with other agencies such as InTouch to explore the kind of contribution we can continue to make in helping migrant and refugee men to play a positive and constructive role in eliminating family violence against women.
Wellsprings has attracted funding to build a new activity room at the back of the current property to accommodate the growing number of women participating in our programs.
We anticipate that the new space will be ready to use in February 2019.
We will continue to expand our programs into Casey and Cardinia areas, and build partnerships with like-minded agencies to boost our impact and increase our collaboration across the sector.
As a member of Kildare Ministries, Wellsprings for Women will strengthen its relationships with KM schools and community works by exploring joint projects and ways to involve Wellsprings participants in activities happening at some of the schools, especially school performances.
The legacy of Nano Nagle and Sister Ann Halpin is well and truly alive, nurtured by the commitment and dedication of KM Trustees in whose care the future of Wellsprings lies.
Wellsprings for Women Annual Fundraising Dinner
Congratulations to the Board, Staff and Volunteers of Wellsrpings for Women on a wonderful fundraising dinner in St. Mary's Community Hall on Friday 26th October. Other ministries