Hunter Women's Centre program helps survivors of Domestic Violence move on with their lives

SUPPORT: Lisa Henderson, left, and Shelley-Marie Smith at Bella Vista Function Centre on May 12 for the Hunter Women's Centre Moving Forward program graduation.

SUPPORT: Lisa Henderson, left, and Shelley-Marie Smith at Bella Vista Function Centre on May 12 for the Hunter Women's Centre Moving Forward program graduation.

Shelley-Marie Smith described being part of the Hunter Women’s Centre Moving Forward program as “a really rewarding experience”.

Ms Smith was a mentor to Lisa Henderson during the six-month program, which is aimed to support survivors of Domestic Violence regain confidence and move forward in their lives.

They were one of eight pairs to graduate from the Moving Forward program at Bella Vista Function Centre at Mayfield on May 12.

Ms Smith and Ms Henderson are both DV survivors and found the program beneficial.

“I learned new things about myself as well, so there was some personal growth,” Ms Smith said.

Throughout the program, which has just finished its third cycle, the pairs meet once a week.

“I heard about it through a friend,” Ms Smith said.

“She’d been through a traumatic time and had reached out to the Hunter Women’s Centre. She said, ‘I think this would suit you’, so I contacted the centre.

“I’d thought about doing something like this before. I wanted to give something back to the community, especially in this niche because of my own particular experience.”

Ms Henderson said it had given her confidence.

“My counsellor mentioned the program and said it would be a good next step for me,” Ms Henderson said.

“It has helped me to put in place healthy boundaries and that it’s OK to say, ‘No’.”

The Moving Forward program, which relies on funding from the community and has been well-supported by Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group, is seeking mentors and mentees for their next instalment.

The program offers six months of one-on-one support and project co-ordinator for Hunter Women’s Centre Kylie Gilbert said it was aimed towards women out of crisis who are interested in pursuing goals for study, work or business, or to rebuild their confidence.

“It’s a new beginning, a new start. We’ve had women start their own business, go to work, be accepted into university, just lots of really exciting things,” she said.

For more information on the Moving Forward Program contact Hunter Women’s Centre, a not-for-profit organisation, on 4968 2511. 

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