Our Grants Program plays a key role in supporting both the legal profession and the community to build a justice system that Victorians trust. One of the programs we currently support is Women and Mentoring (WAM), and last month we were proud to join them for their 10 year anniversary. WAM provides a unique early intervention program that supports women charged with a criminal offence by matching them with a supportive female mentor.
Many of WAM’s mentees have experienced family violence, insecure housing, poor mental health and problematic drug or alcohol use. Social isolation is often a prominent issue in their lives. Through their mentors, these women are supported to navigate the criminal justice system as well as build their capacity and skills to improve their lives.
The celebration heard from Sammy and Louise (WAM mentee and mentor), who spoke powerfully about their experiences. Before the program, Sammy was on a Drug Treatment Order and in a ‘very dark place’. With Louise’s support, Sammy’s confidence has bloomed as she rebuilds her life through addressing her addiction, housing, health, employment and most significantly, regaining access to her children.
Carmel Benjamin, the trail blazing founder of Court Network and WAM patron, also spoke persuasively of the powerful role community can play in caring for and restoring our most vulnerable. She talked about how our justice system works best when people from all walks of life are treated with dignity; when they have access to the information and support they need to meaningfully participate.
WAM’s personalised, community-driven model is proving highly successful with 87% of mentees not reoffending during their involvement in the program. This is impressive considering Victoria’s average recidivism rate is 43.3%. Read WAM’s evaluation report to find out more.