2023 ‘Addressing Violence against Women and their Children’ Category Winner

Glen Eira City Council, VIC

Glen Eira Mums

The Initiative

Glen Eira Mums (GEMS) is designed to provide early intervention to family violence, operating within Glen Eira City Council’s Maternal and Child Health Service (MCH). GEMS has helped more than 151 families since it was established in 2018 through a partnership between Council and the Peninsula Community Legal Centre (PCLC), and demand continues to grow.

GEMS was established as a proactive response to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence to address violence against women. Research indicates that women are at greater risk of experiencing violence from an intimate partner during pregnancy and early parenthood, which is a time when families are engaged with Council’s MCH Service. GEMS has supported some of Glen Eira’s most vulnerable mothers and their children to avoid homelessness, debt and other complications that can arise from experiencing family violence through access to legal advice and representation, including for intervention orders or victims of crime applications.

A lawyer from PCLC provides services directly to CH clients from a discreet, safe location and offers secondary consults to the nurses. The legal service includes free one-to-one consults for families who disclose family violence or who were identified as at risk by the MCH nurse. PCLC provides individualised support to meet the mother’s safety needs. The program provides a non-stigmatising and ‘soft entry’ point into a legal service, and the MCH Service remains involved to continue to support the family with other areas of need.

Council’s commitment to preventing family violence is articulated in the Council Plan 2021-2025 and enacted through the Community Wellbeing Plan 2021-2025, and Gender Equality Action Plan 2022-2025. In one instance, GEMS helped mother-of-two ‘Angela’, who had tried to separate from her violent partner ‘Harley’. Angela had applied for an Intervention Order but allowed Harley to return home after he agreed to complete a behaviour change program. He didn’t complete the program, continued to be physically and verbally abusive, and refused to leave.

Through GEMS, Angela was connected to a PCLC lawyer who negotiated a two-year Intervention Order with full conditions.

The cost of the program is approximately $35,000 per annum.

About the Category

The ‘Addressing Violence against Women and their Children’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • address underlying causes of gender inequality and power imbalances to eliminate violence against women and their children;
  • support and advocate for women and children experiencing family and domestic violence and sexual harassment; and/or
  • raise awareness and create cultures and communities of respect, inclusion and gender equality.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • preventing violence towards women by driving sustainable change in community awareness, attitudes and behaviours;
  • supporting women and children who are at risk of, or experiencing, family and domestic violence, sexual violence or sexual harassment; and/or
  • changing the attitudes and social norms that excuse or condone disrespect, sexual harassment and abuse.

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