A renovated hub for Aboriginal women and children impacted by family violence will empower the community and continue the work of Aunty Liz Morgan.
For Elizabeth Morgan House (EMH) CEO Kalina Morgan-Whyman, empowering Aboriginal women and children isn’t just her life’s work.
It’s also a family legacy.
A proud Yorta Yorta woman, Kalina is the granddaughter of the late and great Elizabeth Morgan, or Aunty Liz.
Aunty Liz helped establish the Yorta Yorta Tribal Council, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Health Service, Victorian Aboriginal Land Council, and the Aboriginal Housing Cooperative.
Recognising that family violence disproportionately affects Aboriginal women and children, Aunty Liz also founded EMH as Australia’s first Aboriginal women’s refuge in the early 1970s.
'Establishing EMH was one of Aunty Liz's proudest achievements. She envisioned a place where women and children could get their lives back together, while accessing the help and support they need,' said Kalina.
Today, EMH remains a grassroots organisation, committed to defending and upholding the rights and self-determination of Aboriginal women and children.
The services provided include secure refuge accommodation, specialist family violence case management and court support services, as well as counselling and therapeutic programs.
'EMH is often at the frontline, supporting women and their children through intake and referral practices that remove the barriers women often face when choosing to seek support to live a life free from violence,’ said Kalina.
'Our vision is to work with our communities to ensure safe and culturally strong futures for our women, children and young people,' she added.
An important step towards realising this vision will be the renovation of the EMH Aboriginal Women’s Hub, supported by $200,000 from the Victorian Government’s Living Local Fund and $350,000 from Elizabeth Morgan House Aboriginal Women's Service.
The renovation of the Hub will see the current facilities updated to create versatile and flexible spaces, with new glazing, floor finishes and furniture, and the addition of an all-abilities entrance.
A calming sensory and communal garden will also be installed, featuring native plant species and bush tucker, as well as new pathways, decking, seating and gathering spaces.
'This will provide a soft, welcoming entry to the Hub, and will help connect visitors to Country,' said Kalina.
The renovated spaces will mean EMH can offer new and enhanced services, including:
- Generalist case management, financial wellbeing sessions and programs to support people to attain a living wage before leaving the Hub
- Arts and crafts programs, cooking classes and community meals, facilitated personal history lessons and assistance with letter writing and communication with families
- Facilitated yarns led by Elders and respected community members, yarning circles and external practitioner-run classes
- Supporting people to connect with the NDIS, facilitating neuro-psych assessments for acquired brain injuries
- Various training programs and opportunities, and
- Specific times for LGBTIQ+BS people to come together as a group.
'The Hub's model is based around the knowledge that Aboriginality is a strength,' said Kalina.
'When we nurture and uphold that strength, it can be a protective factor against trauma,’ she added.
With funding announced and plans underway, Kalina is confident the Hub will honour Aunty Liz's legacy and provide the services most needed by the community.
'We're confident that renovating the Hub will help us achieve our vision of empowering and supporting women to realise their rights and full potential.’
The Living Local Fund is part of the Office for Suburban Development’s commitment to developing community spaces that support the liveability of our suburbs.
Learn more about the Living Local Fund and the Office for Suburban Development.