Project: Strength to Strength
Midland Women’s Health Care Place has received a 100 Women grant to fund counsellors that will facilitate the Strength-to-Strength program, creche staff and program resources.
Midland Women’s Health Care Place (MWHCP) offers a long-term support service and peer support group that is designed to improve the mental health and wellbeing for 192 women survivors of family and domestic violence.
Who is Midland Women’s Health Care Place?
MWHCP provide subsidised, professional, individualised and group counselling services to women who have experienced, or are experiencing, perinatal or postnatal depression, family violence trauma, relationship issues, grief and loss. A range of therapeutic health and wellbeing group activities provide safe, soft entry points. MWHCP strive to empower, strengthen and improve the well-being of all women and families so that they can have stronger futures.
What project will a 100 Women grant support?
Strength to Strength is a peer support program for women who have experienced or who are experiencing family and domestic violence (FDV). The program provides a safe place for strong connections to form amongst a group of peers so that longer term support structures and services are available. The three-stage program commences with a structured ten-week course covering topics such as resilience, money management, physical and digital safety, trauma management, services awareness, mindfulness, career advice and self-esteem building. This is followed by a second, client led ten-week, program that includes more involvement from the Family Violence Unit. The final stage of the program offers weekly drop-in sessions for up to six months where participants are able stay connected to each other and the organisation and its resources.
Who is the project for?
Strength to Strength will be delivered to 192 women survivors of family and domestic violence over two years. Other indirect beneficiaries include approximately 400 children and family members of the women.
Why is the project needed?
Currently, support offered to women who have escaped or who are experiencing domestic violence is limited in time and focused on safety planning, logistics, financial and legal assistance. The Strength to Strength program offers these services as well as longer term, emotional peer support. As they build a safe and supportive peer network, survivors grow in confidence and the risk of them returning to an abusive relationship lessens. The support offered ranges from emotional support, practical help, listening, exchanging information, the opportunity to learn from others and the pooling of resources. Past participants have continued their involvement in ways such as attending family court hearings to support current program participants.
Why is the Strength to Strength program the best option?
The peer support of common lived experience has been increasingly recognised as an integral, complementary part of victim recovery. Additionally, it is a cost-effective way for survivors to access continued connection and support. MWHCP facilitated a pilot of Strength to Strength in 2021 receiving feedback that the unique peer support provided a different dimension to one-on-one counselling that was extremely beneficial. Participants found that they felt less alone and more confident. Peer support groups were able to understand when family and friends couldn’t. This was invaluable.
Why is Midland Women’s Health Care Place best placed to achieve success?
Since MWHCP commenced operations in 1995, it has established itself as a well-respected organisation with significant experience running group sessions. Facilitators are experienced counsellors, and many staff have lived experience of FDV. MWHCP is well connected and active in the community in which they operate. There is significant demand from clients for Strength to Strength to continue beyond the pilot. MWHCP counsellors have many clients that they would like to recommend to the program.
What are the planned outcomes for the project?
Project success is defined by the goals that participants set for themselves. As they gain confidence, women may be able to open their own bank account, take control of their finances or lease a rental property in their own name. The goal is to ensure that as many women as possible are confident to live their lives in safety with the skills and knowledge that will allow them to take control of their lives.
Are there any notable partners?
After many years working in partnership, MWHCP are currently in the process of merging with Nardine Refuge. Other notable collaborators are:
- Indigo Junction: As part of a longstanding arrangement, a representative attends the centre every Friday to assist clients with financial support.
- Midland Police FDV Unit: A police officer attends group sessions to offer advice and education to women from a police perspective.
- Foodbank: Provide emergency food parcels as well as passes that enable clients in emergency situations to attend a Foodbank outlet.
- Local Child Health Nurse: WA Health occupy space within the MWHCP building and ensure access to the Child Health Nurse for client’s children.
- Midlas Community Legal Firm: This local organisation aids MWHCP clients with legal support as needed.