Funding boost for Wellsprings for Women

Picture: GARY SISSONS. 331711_17 CEO Dalal Smiley at the launch of 'Be The Voice' magazine.

By Sahar Foladi

Wellsprings for Women’s family violence service has had its funding boosted to $788,000 over the next two years.

Prevention of Family Violence Minister Ros Spence made the announcement on Friday 26 May.

“It’s critical that support is provided to women experiencing family violence, regardless of their culture or faith.

“This funding will enable Wellsprings for Women to continue this vital service to the community.”

Wellsprings for Women based in Dandenong, provides women from CALD backgrounds with vital mainstream services in City of Greater Dandenong and Casey.

Chief executive Dalal Smiley had been concerned particularly about their Family Violence Case Management service prior to the announcement but was relieved to know the service will continue.

“We are worried of the State Government budget outcomes and what this will mean to our clients if we don’t receive adequate funding,” she had said.

The funding is an increase of $14,000 per year from $380,000 in 2022-’23 but falls short of the $120,000 rise sought by Wellsprings.

“Wellsprings for Women are pleased to have its culturally tailored and responsive family violence case management service re-funded for two years,” Ms Smiley said.

“We just have to find other sources of revenue to supplement the cost of running the program.“

The service has provided case management support to women from migrant and refugee backgrounds experiencing forms of family violence.

“The funding covers the salaries of a Family Violence Team leader and four case workers whose role is to provide assistance to women experiencing family violence,” Ms Smiley said.

“The majority of the women have complex cases that require intensive support over long periods of time.“

There are 90 women from CALD backgrounds currently supported through this service.

More than 450 have been supported since its first year in 2021, offering culturally tailored and responsive service to meet the special needs of women from CALD backgrounds with multiple barriers in accessing any mainstream services.

Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams said: “Wellsprings for Women is a fantastic local organisation and this funding will enable it to continue its vital work in Melbourne’s south-east.”

Mr Spence said the funding increase will enable a continued support for migrant refugee and asylum seeker women experiencing family violence.

“This year’s Budget boost to Wellsprings for Women cements the organisation’s role in providing vital support in Melbourne’s south-east for multicultural women experiencing family violence.

“The Andrews Labor Government recognises that women of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds often have different needs, and we’re here to support them.“

The funding is part of a $117 million package to support victims of family and sexual violence and perpetrator intervention programs announced in the Victorian Budget 2023-’24.

It builds on the record investment in the prevention of family violence, having invested more than $3.7 billion since the Royal Commission into Family Violence – more than every other state and territory combined, according to Mr Spence.

However, the culling of their employment support program has left Ms Smiley “heartbroken.”

Funded under the Community Employment Connector program (CEC) in partnership with South-East Community Links (SECL), the service was a “phenomenal success.”

“The CEC program delivered by SECL and Wellsprings for Women in the South Metro has been crucial in connecting vulnerable people with employment and vocational training.”

The organisation will continue to advocate for funding for its other services such as their neighbourhood houses coordination, the Adult Community funding and Further Education for the Student Contact Hour rate.

“Funding for both has fallen behind the cost of inflation in recent years,” Ms Smiley said.

Increased funding for mental health support especially for prevention programs and activities that promote mental health wellbeing at grass roots levels will also be advocated for.

Recently, Wellsprings launched its ‘Be the Voice’ magazine.

It explores sexual assault, early and forced marriages and coercive control, with a balance of statistics based on the stories of 10 women from diverse backgrounds including Afghan and Indian.

The informative resource was a project funded by the City of Casey as part of the Empowering Communities grants from the Department of Justice and Community Safety Victoria.

WFW announced the round two funding they’ve received to take this project even further working closely with the 10 women.

Round two is a one year project kick-starting from July this year.