On 8 March we celebrate International Women’s Day and embrace the Australian theme for 2019 - More Powerful Together.
For MacKillop Family Services More Powerful Together encapsulates everything we do. Together, we work with children, young people and families so they can build on their strengths, learn from their past and create environments where children can thrive.
For the young women at MacKillop’s Morgan House service in East Melbourne, this supportive environment is helping them feel empowered to become strong parents and confident adults.
Living together and learning from each other, Morgan House is the only one of its kind in Australia providing pre and postnatal care to pregnant and parenting young women who are involved in the Child Protection System. It is a specialist accommodation and support service, with 24 hour staff who support the young women with their parenting.
The young women coming to live at Morgan House often feel unsure of their future, scared and worried about how they will cope as young, new parents.
Sixteen year old Kayla* was feeling desperate.
I was five months pregnant and had been living in a residential home. I was hanging out with guys who were not good for me and I started using drugs. I had no contact with my parents as my father was abusing me.
Cassidy* arrived at Morgan House three months pregnant and determined to turn her life around.
“The baby’s father had tried to abort the baby using extreme violence. At Morgan House I got the support I needed and started making changes so I could keep my baby. I have been drug-free for four months and I’m now safely away from the father. I don’t have any contact with my own Mum and Dad so I’ve asked my youth worker to support me through childbirth.”
Hannah*, aged 15, left school and became despondent when she discovered she was pregnant.
“I had left school and wasn’t interested in anything. But since I had my baby I am back at school and learning parenting and life skills. I’m moving soon to a home-based care placement with my baby. A local maternal and child health nurse will visit weekly.
“What I love about Morgan House is that it gives me the chance to be the best Mum I can be.”
Team Leader, Shae Graafmans, sees Morgan House as a place which educates and empowers young women and takes inspiration from this year’s IWD theme.
“We support the young women holistically and collaboratively.
“Many of the young people have experienced a challenging start in life, where they have often not felt safe. Being pregnant and having their babies can bring up a lot of past trauma. So we provide a very homely atmosphere where there’s space for the Mums to learn parenting skills and develop that very important mother/child attachment. They are cared for so they can care for their babies.
“These women in the home are to be commended for the commitment they have to turn their lives around and provide nurturing homes for their children – some of whom will be the women of tomorrow,” Shae said.
If you would like more information about Morgan House please contact MacKillop Family Services at Forest Hill on (03) 9544 2544.
*Names changed and model image used to protect individual’s privacy.