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Melbourne Women’s Foundation members are inspired by the opportunity to create more positive futures for disadvantaged women and families in our community.

Below are some of the meaningful change our efforts have enabled. 

Tradeswomen Community Foundation

The Tradeswomen Community Foundation’s Remade for Trades program received the $75,000 Signature grant from Melbourne Women’s Foundation members in the 2022/23 grants round.

The Remade for Trades program provides mentoring, peer support, job readiness, and entry programs to assist unemployed women experiencing disadvantage in Brimbank, Nillumbik, and Dandenong shires. The program targets women from all cultural and linguistic backgrounds, including immigrants and/or refugees, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, and women of all ages in those areas.

Although the program faced difficulties in onboarding employer, educational, and community partners, it has made significant progress in raising awareness of secure employment opportunities for beneficiaries, as opposed to low entitlement, unstable casual work.

Information sessions continue, with workshops set to be completed by the end of September 2024 with a robust evaluation process to follow.

We will keep members updated on any further outcomes of this trailblazing program.

You Matter

In 2022/23 You Matter was awarded our $40,000 Nurturing Grant. You Matter offers a critical service in Victoria providing everything needed to set up a home (‘Haven’) for women who have experience domestive violence. The service aims to reduce the likelihood of women returning to an abusive partner due to lack of basic material need.

With Nurturing grant funds You Matter achieved all expected outcomes for beneficiaries:

  • Creating 56 Havens for 56 women and 78 children, by:
  • Employing of a dedicated Haven Service Coordinator
  • Training 10 Volunteer Haven Coordinators
  • Supporting 14 Family Violence Agencies enabling best service delivery for case workers and their clients.

“It is clear the importance of delivering this critical niche service of providing women with a fully functioning, comfortable and secure home ‘Haven’ has beneficial impacts on the women’s recovery from family violence, including a reduced chance of returning to the perpetrator.”
Maxine Gross, You Matter Founder & CEO during grant period.

“My client is over the moon and so appreciative of the support in establishing a new home for herself after escaping a violence relationship. Everything was amazing.”

Front line Support Worker Testimonial

2022 Merit Awardees

Our Merit Awards celebrate the outstanding contributions of our runner-up grant finalists, each receiving $7,000 in untied funding in our 2022/23 grants round.  We’re proud to support these inspiring organisations. 

Law & Advocacy Centre for Women

The Law and Advocay Centre for Women (LACW) used the Merit Award funds toward their Case Management Service.

LACW provides alternative pathways for socially and economically disadvantaged and women who are charged with criminal offences, helping them to avoid being caught up in the justice system.

Their case management services target interlinked issues these women experience such as family violence trauma, victimisation, mental health issues, homelessness and addiction to alcohol or other drugs. In addition, the project also provides material aid including transportation costs, emergency accommodation, grocery vouchers and mobile phones and credit to women exiting prison who are at risk of poverty, homelessness, and harm upon release.

“We would like to sincerely thank the MWF and its members for supporting our work.”
Elena Pappas – CEO, Law and Advocacy Centre for Women

Wellsprings for Women

Wellsprings for Women allocated their 2022/23 Merit Award funds to provide groceries, vouchers to purchase supplies, hot meals, personal care items, clothing and household goods for culturally and linguistically diverse women experiencing family violence.

Wellsprings for Women relies on donations and fundraising to provide essential material aid for their clients.

Northern Community Legal Centre

The Northern Community Legal Centre (NCLC) is pleased to inform Melbourne Women’s Foundation (MWF) members the successful implementation of the Merri-bek Take the First Step Project. The project began with the help of funds from the MWF Merit Award and a private donation through the Melbourne Women’s Foundation, in addition to support from Merri-bek Council.

The project trained 12 culturally diverse Peer Educators on how to provide support to victims/survivors of family violence and where to seek help. The trainees worked to create culturally appropriate messages regarding family violence, which were distributed throughout their own community networks, such as GP waiting rooms, specialist grocers, libraries, and social media.

Despite the strong community need and engagement, the project concluded in 2023.

First Step

First Step allocated their Merit Award funds to The Road Home Project. The project is a collaboration between housing support staff at Launch Housing East St Kilda (LHESK) and First Step practitioners including GP’s, mental health nurse and lawyer. They provide free health and legal services one day per week within a women-only emergency housing facility.

This project continues to achieve positive outcomes for both clients and staff, and as a result, is being extended to a second Launch Housing site. An independent evaluation of the service is currently underway.

The Social Studio

In 2021, MWF’s membership awarded their $35,000 Nurturing Grant to The Social Studio to support an exciting initiative, Designing Our Futures: Women’s Empowerment Scholarships. The program enabled 18 women from refugee or migrant backgrounds to participate in a range of educational and/or employment opportunities, including undertaking a 24-month accredited Certificate III in Clothing Production, conducting showcases of their work, attending printmaking workshops, developing  business planning skills and fashion portfolios and accessing paid employment in the fashion industry.

The program’s key success measure is the percentage of graduated students who go on to further education and/or employment. At the program’s completion, The Social Studio was pleased to report that 87% of their Designing Our Futures graduates were preparing to transition to further employment or study in 2023.

Lighthouse Foundation

In 2019, MWF awarded its $80,000 Signature Grant to Lighthouse Foundation to support its Young Women’s Freedom Project. The project’s goals are to empower young women escaping an early or forced marriage to transition successfully to independent living, with a restored sense of self-esteem, and the life skills to manage on their own. Lighthouse Foundation strives to accomplish this by providing them with a safe home with 24/7 carers along with nurturing therapeutic care, psychological counselling, and individual development plans to address past trauma and its ongoing effects.

The project has just undergone a two-year evaluation and findings highlight a noteworthy increase in self-agency amongst the young women and a significant advancement in life skills leading to independent living. The girls have also identified an important feeling of belonging and attachment after experiencing intense isolation resulting from the need to abandon their former family and social attachments.

Lighthouse Foundation was also an inaugural winner of a Spark! Grant of $15,000.


In 2018, MWF awarded HerSpace a $100,000 Signature Grant to employ a part-time Clinical Program Manager, Operations Manager and Monitoring and Evaluations Officer. As a result, it developed the capacity to transition out of its start-up phase to significantly increase its service offerings to girls and women, particularly from CALD backgrounds, escaping sexually exploitative roles and requiring psychological and physical trauma support. 

Based on this good work, as of early 2020 HerSpace has been able to raise an additional $350,000 to further secure its sustainability for the benefit of women and girls who have experienced sexual exploitation.

Justice Connect

In 2017, MWF awarded Justice Connect a $75,000 Signature grant to continue the Women’s Homelessness Prevention Project (WHPP). The innovative WHPP had provided integrated legal and social work assistance to keep women and children safely housed, but required further resourcing to continue. 

The grant not only helped Justice Connect to maintain the WHPP, it also offered the necessary time to procure funding from philanthropic and government funders to sustain it. The impact of MWF’s support is seen through the WHPP’s first five years, with 671 women and children receiving wrap-around legal services to avoid homelessness, which also represents $4.9 million in cost-savings to government and our wider-community.

Safe Futures Foundation

With MWF’s $30,000 Nurturing Grant in 2018, Safe Futures Foundation (SFF) was able to add financial counselling to its wraparound services aimed at empowering women who have experienced family violence to gain control over their lives. 

The counsellor supported women in understanding major issues such as disposal of joint assets and dealing with debt. It also funded training for SFF staff so they could build the financial literacy of women who have experienced family violence.

Women and Mentoring

With MWF’s inaugural $60,000 Signature Grant in 2015, Women and Mentoring (WAM) was able to establish its innovative mentorship support for female offenders in western Melbourne. At the time, WAM was operating its early intervention women’s mentorship program in the City of Yarra with $74,000 annual revenue. 

It has since expanded into five courts, increasing its beneficiaries by 800 percent with 80 percent not re-offending and 95 percent avoiding a custodial sentence. 

In 2023, the Victorian Government granted WAM $3.2 million over three years to expand its program across Melbourne and into specified areas.