Monday March 8th.
With International Women’s Day coming up on Monday, March 8, we wanted to increase our donation from $1 to $5 for every online sale and highlight the important work of an organisation that really walks the talk when it comes to empowering women and striving for gender equality.
Annabelle Daniel (OAM) is the CEO of Women’s Community Shelters, an Australian charity organisation which aims to provide direct relief of suffering for disadvantaged and homeless women by establishing new shelters in partnership with communities.
Women’s Community Shelters is one of the worthy organisations you can choose to support when you make a purchase with Medley, thanks to i=Change. We spoke to Annabelle about their important work and what the donation contributes towards.
1. Can you give us a quick overview of what Women’s Community Shelters does?
Women’s Community Shelters (WCS) works with local communities around NSW to establish new crisis accommodation shelters for women and children who are homeless or leaving domestic and family violence. In 2020, WCS provided over 20,000 bed nights – that’s ‘safe sleeps’ - to women and children. WCS also provides that vital, affordable next step of secure housing once women have completed their stay in a shelter. Our Walk the Talk program connects over 3,000 high school students each year with education around respectful relationships, and an ‘action’ component where they get involved in supporting their local women’s community shelter.
2. Why is it so important to have this resource for women?
More than 200 women per day are turned away from existing services due to a lack of space, and those are just the ones who find a way to ask for help. Can you imagine being in a situation where you have the courage to ask for help to leave, only to be told ‘sorry, we don’t have space for you?’ That’s where our organisation was born – in the belief that there should be safe housing, support and social inclusion for all women who need assistance.
3. How does your work help to create positive outcomes and create a more equal standing for women?
Evidence shows that women experience more violence in intimate partnerships and family settings. It is a ‘gendered’ crime. Women are also more likely to take time out of the workforce to care for children, elderly parents and relatives with special needs, meaning they accumulate lower lifetime earnings, work experience and superannuation, which can lead to poverty and homelessness in old age. In providing women with support during crisis … they build their capacity for independence and financial security for themselves and their children.
4. Is there a success story that has personally stood out to you?
There are some women you work with who you just never forget.
Luba* came to Australia from South East Asia. She was qualified as a laboratory scientist in her home country. When she came to Australia with her husband, he confined her to a single room in the house, only allowing her out to cook meals and attend to their son’s needs.
[When] she came to our Sanctuary Shelter, Luba received support to access Family Benefit for her son and to find employment with a local business. Our Child Support worker assisted her son to start a new school with the right uniform, a new schoolbag and lunchbox, and helped him enrol in after-school activities he wanted to do for the first time. After 2 months, Luba had secured a property nearby to rent. Her son had never been to the movies and during school holidays, the Child Support Worker led an excursion there. He came back to the shelter and proudly told the staff ‘I saw the biggest TV in the whole world!!’ It’s about support, but it’s so much about the human touch, and having someone to walk alongside you. Luba and her son are happily living a new life in their own home, and we check in regularly.
5. The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. What does this mean to you?
It’s such a great theme. In our line of work though, ‘challenging’ is more than a choice, it’s a necessity. We must challenge the status quo that means women are more likely to retire into poverty. We must provide pathways into employment and education so women have adequate opportunities to fulfil their dreams and support their families. And we must challenge the notion that domestic and family violence will always be around – we can and must work towards eliminating it. That is what I would truly love to see – an Australia free of domestic and family violence. I would love to shut our shelters down in 20 years because there is no longer any need for them. That is the goal we have to work towards!
Learn more about Women’s Community Shelters and how you can help.
Part of our mission here at Medley is to support our community. One way we’re giving back is by partnering with i=Change to donate $1 from every Medley order to a charity partner we love. After you place an order, you can choose which charity partner you’d like to support.