Melbourne Women’s Fund members are inspired by the opportunity to create more positive futures for disadvantaged women and families in our community. Below are some examples of the meaningful change our efforts have made.
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.
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.
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 May 2020, the Victorian Government granted WAM $3.6 million over four years to expand its services.