In 2020 the Equal Futures Project (EFP) is supporting two charity partners, Nutrition Plus and Got Your Back Sista. We spent some time chatting to Mel Histon, the founder of Got Your Back Sista, about its work, COVID-19 impacts and how the partnership with EFP is making a difference.
Got Your Back Sista offers support to women and children escaping domestic violence and are at risk of living below the poverty line. The charity relies on funding and donations to give women and children a hand up for them to begin again and live independently.
2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with the onset and/or escalation of domestic violence for many women. An Australian government report* noted that 47% of women who experienced coercive control before and after February 2020 said the abuse had increased in frequency or severity.
Yet COVID also brought with it restrictions on events and community activities – some of the main fundraising and awareness raising activities Got Your Back Sista relies on to support women.
“The peak of COVID was a really stressful time for everyone and we weren’t immune to that. We had to adapt and change what we were doing but we were also aware that there was an increase in need amongst the women we support,” Mel said.
“It actually made funding from grants and organisations like Equal Futures so much more helpful.”
The Equal Futures Project and its donation of $14,000 from the 2020 International Women’s Day breakfast, is specifically supporting a school program that aims to raise awareness of the different types of relationship and domestic violence as highlight early warning signs.
“Of course, we had to pause the school program while COVID restrictions were in place. Students were at home and then there was a period where external organisations weren’t allowed in schools so that everyone was kept safe,” Mel said.
Got Your Back Sista adapted its programs as restrictions were easing when it realised that counselling and one on one support was required for many of the women who had been impacted by domestic violence in the lock down period.
“We’re really excited to use the money the Equal Futures Project gave to us in the school program. It’s so important to raise awareness in both young women and men and educate them on some of the red flags in unhealthy relationships,” Mel said.