Barrycutscommunitybleeds: Liverpool Women’s Resource Centre

Cross-posted from Barrycutscommunitybleeds, a new campaign blog about cuts to community services in NSW, supported by F. Check it out and please share.

By Shirley Kent, Co-ordinator, LWRC

Liverpool Women’s Resource Centre is a small agency in the middle of one of Liverpool’s most disadvantaged areas. For 28 years the service has provided support, programs, information and projects responsive to the changing needs of the community around us.  On the radar of the state government we are undoubtedly a very small blip. In the lives of women and children in this area we are an important and irreplaceable resource. Our service is currently at risk due to the State Government’s cost cutting regime.

What We Do:

Drop in counselling, referral, advocacy and support to women and families in the area.

Telephone advice, referral and support to women (and men).

Groups and programs for women and children including:

Art, Craft and Sewing

Aboriginal Women’s Support Group

 Little Sister’s Group – Aboriginal Girls aged 5-15

Creative Kids Program – an afterschool group for children aged 5-16

Hindi and Urdu Women’s Support Group

Self Esteem, Depression Support, and other psychosocial groups

Recovery Group – for women dealing with addiction

Outreach groups in geographically and socially disadvantaged areas

Support for women leaving domestic violence.

Hindi & Urdu Women’s Group at LWRC

We source funding for projects including:

Sharing Our Stories/Sharing Our Lives : a storytelling and art project connecting women from different cultures

The Women’s Safety Project :  looking at women’s safety in public places

Weaving Women Together: An art and craft project with Aboriginal women with a theme of building a safe and healthy community. In the second year of the project other groups from the community – CALD and Anglo groups – will engage with the Aboriginal women in this project.

Sisters for Sisters: A skills building project with Aboriginal women learning about governance of agencies, community skills and producing a book of their stories.

We do all this on a budget of not much more than most politician’s yearly wage and entitlements and provide service to an average of 150 women per week. All our groups are low or no cost and provide free child minding.

What This Means:

Nina* has been coming to one of our groups for several years. One day she approaches me to tell me she has read some of the information we keep here in the bathroom and group room. She has two children under five; her husband has been beating her for all of their marriage. He has threatened to kill her and the kids if she leaves. She has been reading about the effect on children of living with violence. She can see that her children are suffering. She wants to leave. We organise for her to get to a refuge, contact the Police for an AVO, and connect her to a local domestic violence service. She and her children are safe.

Iman* has been in Australia for five years. She speaks little English, has no family here and is lonely and isolated. She has three small children. Her neighbour has suggested coming to the sewing group. Sewing crosses barriers of language and background. Her English improves, her kids love coming to child minding. Iman’s confidence increases and she starts English classes, she talks about going back to education and getting a job. She is not isolated any more.

Marg* comes to Dealing with Depression group here at the Centre. During the group, she discloses years of sexual assault as a child. She suffers from nightmares, anxiety, flashbacks and her relationship is in trouble. She finds it hard to parent her three school age children. She has always been afraid to see a counsellor due to negative experiences as young woman. We talk about counselling, I introduce her to a local sexual assault service and one of the counsellors comes here to meet her for the first time on safe ground. She starts seeing a counsellor and two years on reports that she is healing. She is reclaiming her life.

Jean* is an Aboriginal woman who grew up in this area. She has experienced violence and abuse, racism and poverty for all her adult life. She is currently raising her grandchildren after the death of her daughter. Jean comes to the Aboriginal Women’s Group and has discovered skills in art, pottery and writing since she started to attend. The confidence she has gained has led to her starting a TAFE course and doing work in her community.  She is making her life and the life of her grandchildren better.

Morgan* is fifteen. She sees the sign on her way to school. She pops in with a couple of her friends to ask what we do. They tell me about a ‘friend’ who is being sexually abused by her father. I give them information and numbers, talk to them a bit about sexual assault – that it always the perpetrators fault, that it is a criminal act, that there are services there to support young women in this circumstance. Later, Morgan comes back alone. We ring a local sexual assault service, organise for her to meet with a counselor and to report the matter.  Some months later Morgan rings to tell me she is safely living with her grandmother and still seeing her counselor. She is safe.

*Names and identifying information have been changed

Kath from ‘Sisters For Sisters’ Aboriginal Group perhaps expressed it best in a piece she wrote for a book the women are producing :

My name is Kath and I live in the Liverpool area. I currently attend an Aboriginal Women’s Group called ‘Sistas for Sistas’. Our group has women of all ages attending every week. I enjoy catching up with the women. WE do arts, crafts, excursions and camps, but the main aim of the group is to support each other.

I have been coming to the group now for two and a half years and I can never get enough. I especially enjoy cooking lunch and I don’t mind getting dirty in our vegetable patch.

Before coming to the group I didn’t think I had a life to live. Every day would be a struggle between thoughts of suicide and wanting to hurt myself.

I’ve come a long way because of the support from the women in the our group, who have all been through hard times themselves, or are still having hard times.

I’m glad I got the chance to meet these lovely women as I might not be here today. Thanks to ‘Sistas for Sistas’ and Liverpool Women’s Resource Centre I can see a future to look forward to. I just have to take one step at a time. Kath 2012

Sisters for Sisters at LWRC

LWRC is one of the many smaller services at risk from the O’Farrell government’s funding cuts.

We were originally funded through the CSGP Program, a Department of Community Services funding program, which began a process of re assessment in 2010.  This process has dragged on for over 2 years and the most recent round of funding provided on six months funding to this agency. At the moment our funding finishes in December 2012 (this year) and to date we have had no answers from the Department about the future of our service. Our service is on the list of services recommended for defunding in the document obtained under FOI.

For each service lost, there are stories like the ones told above, and each service lost represents an immense loss for women, children and families especially those who are disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk. Like many smaller service, we are the ‘first stop’ for a many women and provide support for many people who ‘drop through the gaps’ of mainstream services.

Each service lost also represents a loss for the community and a loss of potential within the community.

Join us in protecting the immeasurable losses the O’Farrell Government is inflicting on some of our most disadvantaged areas.

 

 

 

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