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WIRE Women’s Information Referral Exchange Inc.

AnnualReport2012 Moving Forward: Securing WIRE’s future for women in Victoria

WIRE believes women should be safe, respected, valued, informed, empowered and free to make genuine choices in their lives. our feminist principle


2 Statistics at a glance 4 Chief Executive Officer’s message 5 Chair’s message 6 Informing and supporting individual women 13 Voicing women’s issues and developing new resources and pathways 17 Securing WIRE’s future for women in Victoria 18 Staff 18 Board of Governance 20 Volunteers, members and supporters 22 Financial statements 2011–2012 25 Get involved!

Statistics at a glance

WIRE’s vision: building a society where women are safe, respected, valued, informed, empowered and free to make genuine choices in their lives. WIRE gave information, support and referrals to a total of 12,773 contacts

WIRE Telephone Support Service answered 6,894 calls with the average length of call about 30 minutes

Women’s Information Since 15 February 2012, Centre received WIRE responded to 126 5,753 calls, visits livechat requests and emails

34,429 hits on the WIRE website and 107,035 webpages viewed

The average length of Livechats is 21 minutes 47 seconds

97.9% of WIC survey participants were satisfied with the service they received


3 in 4 WIC users surveyed said they valued talking things through with someone, even after they had accessed online information

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

90% of callers surveyed felt clearer about what they wanted to do next— WIRE gave them options and took steps to help them to move forward

100% of Telephone Support Service survey participants felt that they had been listened to when they called WIRE, that WIRE understood their issues and concerns, and that the information provided was helpful

Phone workers volunteered for 4,722 hours, Team Leaders volunteered for 1,416 hours

Volunteers worked a total of 931 shifts —each shift runs for four hours

Top phone contact issues in the last six months • Family violence 24.24% • Family relationships 23.67% • Employment/education/training 15.59% • Housing 11.81% • Mental health 7.84%

Our Telephone Service Volunteers and Team Leaders worked a total of 6,138 hours—the equivalent of 2.6 full-time positions

62 women successfully trained for WIRE’s Volunteer Telephone Worker Training Course

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012


Chief Executive Officer’s message Samiro Douglas

This year has been a momentous year with big decisions and new plans. We completed our 2011–2014 Strategic Plan and introduced a new strategic goal to ‘Increase WIRE’s sustainability’ for the future. Including a goal on sustainability enabled us to reflect on changes since WIRE’s inception, and focus on strengthening WIRE’s capacity for another thirty years. We explored what was different and what has remained the same. Of course the introduction of the internet and other electronic devices has changed how we all search for information. However the need to personalise this information and have a conversation is just as important as ever. We identified emerging issues such as balancing work and family, women’s low superannuation balances and the housing crises due to the lack of affordability—alarmingly a growing number of older single women face the prospect of poverty and homelessness in retirement. And unfortunately men’s violence against women is still a major problem. We conducted a feasibility study into all areas of our work, in particular the services and programs provided through the Women’s Information Centre. We considered the option of purchasing our property, staying where we are or moving. At the end of this process we decided it was time to move and find a new home that would give WIRE the space to take up new opportunities through strategic partnerships and to seek new project funding. We determined we would focus our enhancements on improving women’s long term financial future through employment outcomes and running financial literacy workshops. We unanimously agreed, as staff and Board, to a calculated leap of courage—to move on from our beautiful home of eight years at the Queen Victoria Women Centre.

Our work is still informed by the stories we hear every day. We are acutely aware that women’s financial security is a significant issue—women’s vulnerability to poverty in retirement due to insufficient superannuation and the increasing unaffordability of housing is rather like a ‘tsunami’. The ‘gender pay gap’ has increased to 17.5% in 2012. Poorer access to employment and the pressures of women juggling both work and caring for children are increasing stresses in the family. Men’s violence against women and children is still a major issue and the attitudes that contribute to this behaviour are still largely unchallenged in our culture. While many things have changed over the past 30 years women are also facing new pressures. There is certainly more work for WIRE in terms of supporting, informing and voicing the concerns of the women of Victoria. Again I offer my enormous respect for the work of the WIRE staff and volunteer team. Our volunteer team continues to strengthen; our relationship with our volunteers is based on the reciprocal sharing of skills and experience. We honour their amazing skills and their dedication to the women of Victoria through their roles in the phone room and WIC. To Anne and the Board—this has been a momentous year for WIRE and one that will position WIRE for many years to come. Under your leadership, Anne, the Board has taken a very considered approach and explored a number of options in the journey forward. These decisions will strengthen WIRE and secure our future sustainability. It takes a courageous Board to implement such significant changes. Thank you on behalf of the staff and volunteer team at WIRE and the women of Victoria.

Our new home is 372 Spencer Street, West Melbourne, and we will be moving in before the end of the year. Interestingly, our strong focus on improving WIRE’s financial future and sustainability as an organisation parallels our work on improving financial outcomes for individual women. Improving WIRE’s financial future through some very serious thinking to ensure WIRE’s sustainability as an organisation is an integral part of our strategic direction.


WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

Board of Governance

Chair’s message Anne Smyth

Looking back over the last 12 months, I am reminded of what an extraordinary organisation WIRE is. So much has happened and been achieved and we know much more needs to be done. It is with this in mind that the Board has worked very hard and with deep commitment to deciding how best to invest in our future and to strengthen WIRE’s position to survive and thrive. It has been a big year indeed. Our strategic planning work reinforced our determination to ensure that through all our decision-making and our processes, we remained anchored in our core vision and values—they make WIRE what it is. While we remain firmly focussed on our core purpose, we also know that to achieve our goals, we must move beyond business as usual to find new and different ways to support and enable women to be informed, empowered and to make genuine choices in their lives. This has been a significant challenge and places us at an exciting juncture. We are now in a position to explore possibilities for WIRE to do more of the things we know are needed but for which we have not had the internal capacity to follow through. The recent appointment of our Business Development Manager Julie Kun and the move to new premises are two important ways in which we are building WIRE’s sustainability. These have been truly critical decisions and we are delighted that the former is in place—a warm welcome to Julie—and that the latter is well on the way. WIRE is stepping up again. We have approached this task with some rich ingredients. These have included a strong commitment to rigorous processes, dialogue and information gathering, careful consideration of the need to balance opportunity and risk, seeking the guidance and expertise of experienced and generous women in the WIRE network in a variety of fields, tapping the considerable expertise held by our board members and the practice of reflecting on an ongoing basis on what we are doing and how we are doing it. This is feminist governance and management in action.

We have set up structures to support these changes including our very hard working Property and Business Development Committees supported by expert financial modelling from our Treasurer and skilled project management from our CEO. Both have produced exceptionally thorough, deeply considered outcomes of a very high standard that have enabled the Board and the CEO to make sound, grounded decisions about complex issues. Like all significant decisions in life, this has not been done without a degree of trepidation mixed with excitement. Nothing important gets done without this process and we are mindful of our responsibility to make well-informed and wise decisions. I think we can look forward to a future filled with expanded possibilities for the women we work with and for. We could not have done this without the extraordinary— and I mean extraordinary—commitment and dedication of our board members and our CEO Samiro Douglas, and the support of our talented staff and amazing volunteers. The level of engagement and sheer hard work from everyone has been wonderful—my thanks to you all. I would also like to sincerely thank our funders from the Department of Human Services—Children, Youth and Families Division, and the Office of Women’s Policy for their ongoing support and encouragement. We all look forward to what next year brings.

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012


Informing and supporting individual women Strategic Direction 1

WIRE’s Support Services for Women Women of all ages and from all backgrounds across Victoria can access free and confidential information, referrals and support from WIRE in various ways: • Telephone Support Service 1300 134 130 (cost of a local call) Mondays to Fridays 9am to 5pm • Women’s Information Centre Ground level, 210 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 3000 Mondays to Fridays 10.30am to 5pm • Email support service Response within two working days. • Livechat Support Service Mondays to Fridays 9am to 5pm WIRE listened and responded to the stories of more than 12,000 women last year on all sorts of issues. Many women rang WIRE’s Telephone Support Service or visited our Women’s Information Centre; others emailed their concerns or chatted online to WIRE ‘live’ via the new Livechat service on WIRE’s website. Whichever way they chose to contact WIRE, each individual woman’s story was heard and validated, with relevant support, information and referrals provided. “I just want someone to listen to my story, and give me the right info and support, so I can decide for myself what to do next.” At WIRE, we always take the time to listen before responding. In the phone room, an average call lasts half an hour. In the Women’s Information Centre, face-to-face supports with our WIC officers can last beyond an hour. With our Livechat online support service, the average online interaction is 21 minutes with one in ten Livechats exceeding an hour. All email requests are carefully considered and responded to with relevant information within two working days—it is not uncommon for Gemma, Jay or Shannon to spend an hour or more responding to emails dealing with more difficult issues.


“What can I talk to WIRE about?”

“Do I need an appointment?”

WIRE’s state-wide information, support and referral service for women is not only a general service, it is also free and confidential. That means women feel safe and comfortable talking to WIRE about anything—no subject or concern is too big or small for us. As we do not keep any personal records of clients at WIRE, your anonymity and privacy are assured.

At WIRE, no appointments are needed—just call, visit, email or chat online with WIRE during business hours. To ensure that WIRE remains current and accessible to all generations of women in Victoria, WIRE provides you with different ways of accessing information and support, whichever way and whenever it suits you. You can contact WIRE by calling our Telephone Support Service while the kids are at school or when you have a moment alone, drop by the Women’s Information Centre in the Melbourne CBD, send us a quick email via or even chat online with a support worker ‘live’ during your lunch break at work!

In the last year, the top five issues women contacted WIRE about were: • Family violence (24.24%) • Family relationships (23.67%) • Employment/education/training (15.59%) • Housing (11.81%) • Mental health (7.84%) Other reasons for contact included financial crisis or debt issues, migrant issues, help with personal administration and often, just for a chat and to feel socially included.

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

Telephone Support Service 1300 134 130 (cost of a local call) Mondays to Fridays 9am to 5pm When you call WIRE’s 1300 134 130 number during business hours, you will be greeted by the warm friendly voice of a caring and resourceful woman— one of WIRE’s volunteers or staff. We will listen to really understand your situation, and give the practical and emotional support needed. We will support you in recognising your own strengths and resources, and also have access to a broad range of referral services and practitioners available across Victoria. To ensure that your call remains confidential, we will not ask for your name or record any personal details from your call. Whatever your situation, our Telephone Support Worker will help you to look at all your options and help you to form a practical plan of action. WIRE’s Telephone Support Service is wholly run by WIRE volunteers in a small and cosy phone room adjacent to the WIRE office on level one of the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre. At any time between 9am to 5pm on Mondays to Fridays, there are up to three Telephone Support Workers answering calls from three phone lines, supervised by a Team Leader.

Last year a roster of over 60 Telephone Support Volunteers worked a total of 931 shifts in WIRE’s phone room, with each shift running for four hours. In total, our Telephone Service Volunteers and Team Leaders worked a total of 6,138 hours last year—the equivalent of 2.6 full-time positions. The phone room is always alive and buzzing with women’s conversations and shared experiences. At any time, volunteers are busy offering a listening ear and giving practical support to callers on all kinds of issues. During each shift, volunteers also have the chance to share with other volunteers their diverse and rich experiences, and build friendships.

“I just went on the WIRE website and Livechat popped up. I typed in my clients’ questions, got the conversation going, and was able to get all the information straight away. No need to make a phone call, and right there on the computer. My clients went home satisfied.”

Livechat Support Service Mondays to Fridays 9am to 5pm Widespread use of digital mobile devices has certainly changed the ways some women choose to access information and communicate with others. Chatting online is now one of the convenient and immediate ways women can contact WIRE for information, support and referrals. Since 15 February 2012, women have been able to chat safely online ‘live’ via the WIRE website to get reliable and accurate information, support and referrals.

“Talking to someone helps you to validate your concerns and get an alternative point of view.”

By the end of June, WIRE has successfully responded to 126 livechat contacts regarding a range of topics: • Employment/education/training 27% • Family violence 22% • Family relationships 17% • Housing 7% • Financial debt 5% Our phone volunteers and staff are excited about reaching women through this new medium, especially those with speedy typing skills. Women who felt more comfortable online rather than on the phone loved being able to type in questions anonymously and receive responses and engage in an online conversation almost immediately. For several women, their initial livechat experience with WIRE also gave them the confidence to call WIRE’s Telephone Support Service and use WIRE’s other services.

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012


Informing and supporting individual women Strategic Direction 1

“I was greeted with kindness and an understanding that perhaps I needed something more… I was provided with something resembling a road-map with landmarks I should seriously consider visiting given my circumstances. This ‘road-map’ has proven to be most valuable… The service you provide is so very worthwhile to those of us who face uncertain futures.”


Women’s Information Centre 10.30am to 5pm Mondays to Fridays Ground level, 210 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000 Walking into the Women’s Information Centre is like walking into a girlfriend’s lounge room. The friendly smiles of our Women’s Information Officers and WIC volunteers greet you as you enter this cosy women’s space. When you smell the fragrance of fresh flowers and hear the soft background music, you feel safe and at home straight away. No wonder the Women’s Information Centre received 5,753 visits, calls and emails last year for free and confidential information, referrals and support on various women’s issues. Our three Women’s Information Officers and dedicated volunteers are there to help and support anyone who walks in the door—no appointments needed. The centre’s six computer terminals are also

in constant demand with women seeking free public access to computers and the internet. Women contact the Women’s Information Centre to get information and referrals on specific topics and services, to talk to someone face-to-face about personal issues, as well as to receive support with finding employment and/ or training. In addition to public access to computers and to the internet, women at WIC also have access to printed and online publications by WIRE and other community services. The centre also runs a number of free education, training and employment programs for women (see p. 9 Education programs for women). The top five reasons women contact WIC are: • Employment, education or training, including computer and internet access • Social inclusion • Personal administration • Domestic violence • Family relationships

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

“It’s wonderful getting the support that I get at the Women’s Information Centre.”

Education programs for women Finding employment and building careers

Improving computer skills and internet literacy

Many women contact WIRE for support and information when seeking employment and building careers. Women often have to juggle family caring responsibilities with paid work in a largely patriarchal work environment, and face considerable barriers to finding paid work or being given leadership roles in organisations.

Over the past 12 months, 281 women attended 90 computer classes run by WIC’s small but dedicated team of volunteer computer tutors. These classes helped women to improve their basic computer skills such as word processing and email; women also increased their confidence in using various online applications such as shopping online, social media and Skype.

Career Club is a new initiative by Women’s Information Centre for professional women who face barriers to employment, such as family violence, lack of local work experience and motherhood. Career Club started in 2012 as a free career workshop for women with professional qualifications. To date, WIRE Board Member Amy Cato and Human Resource Professional Caitlin Burns (volunteer) have facilitated two workshops that were attended by 15 women. Catering to increased demand, we continued to run fortnightly Job Club sessions in conjunction with WISE Employment. Women seeking employment were able to book in advance for a free half-hour interview with a WISE consultant to guide and advise them on the process of finding a job. Last year WIC ran 39 Job Club sessions for 199 attendees.

The centre has also been part of the Australian Government’s initiative to increase the skills of older Australians using computers and the internet. As part of the ‘Broadband for Seniors’ program, the centre offers a free internet kiosk consisting of two computers for older women in the local community. The program also includes online training for beginners.

Learning about issues that affect women Last year 278 people from the general public as well as community workers and practitioners attended WIRE’s ten free information seminars which covered a wide range of women’s issues. These free seminars were presented by experts and practitioners on specific women’s issues. Topics for these information seminars included: • Stalking • Cyberbullying

• Surrogacy laws • Mind-body relaxation session • Job-finding and building career pathways for women • Parenting adolescents • The impact of family violence on the mother-baby relationship • Women and alcohol • Managing your own mental health • Ditch the diet All information seminars were kindly sponsored by Nicholes Family Lawyers.

Social inclusion Thanks to Shannon and her crafty volunteers, Crafternoons have been a popular addition to WIC’s programs. These small craft-making sessions for women were organised in response to women who visited WIC in order to be socially included. We’ve had eight sessions to date, held monthly on a Friday afternoon, and these sessions continue to be popular with our visitors. Many of these visitors are now regulars at our monthly Crafternoon sessions! Under the expert tuition of Helen, Dimple and other skilled and talented volunteers during these eight sessions, over 30 women had fun learning how to make cards, Christmas decorations such as silver embossed foil angels, jewellery and even knit. We also thank the Community Support Worker Olga Mazel from Doutta Galla who provided support during each of these sessions.

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012


Informing and supporting individual women

I’m really grateful for the empowerment model emphasis within WIRE training… I’ve found that acknowledging that disempowerment is a societal issue women face, and unpacking that a little, helps women to let go of a lot of guilt they carry about their personal challenges. I know I’ve personally felt more capable and willing to contribute to studies and lobbying in support of women’s issues.

Strategic Direction 1

The Telephone Support Worker Training Program WIRE’s ‘Telephone Support Worker Training Program’ continued to attract large numbers of women interested in training and volunteering at WIRE. More than 150 women of all ages and from diverse backgrounds attended our free orientation sessions about training and volunteering at WIRE. Based on WIRE’s well-developed feminist model, the program trains women in the skills of listening, supporting and empowering other women. Accreditation can take up to six months to complete and includes an eight-week training course, several observation and evaluation shifts, assessment interviews, and at least ten volunteer shifts in the phone service.


We congratulate the 50 trainees who have successfully completed WIRE’s intensive training program over the past 12 months—these women’s achievements are certainly testament to their outstanding commitment and skills. We heartily welcome these women to our large family of dedicated WIRE volunteers and supporters!

We also congratulate our four volunteers who were chosen for the high quality of their telephone support work over about 12 months, and were given additional training and support to fulfil their roles as Team Leaders.

“Fantastic experience! I feel empowered, engaged and positive about starting regular shifts! Thank you.”

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

Spreading the word about WIRE’s services for women Hitting the airwaves Last year, WIRE embarked on a lowbudget radio campaign with community radio stations to tell women in Victoria about WIRE’s services. From September 2011, we ran 220 paid advertising spots (30 seconds) in 3CR Community Radio 855 AM, Triple R Melbourne Independent Radio RRR 102.7 FM and 3KND Kool ‘N’ Deadly 1503 AM. Free community service announcements from at least two other community radio stations (JOY 94.9FM and 96.5 Inner FM) complemented WIRE’s paid radio spots. WIRE gave 17 interviews about WIRE’s services and events on various metro and regional community radio programs in Victoria, including: • 3CR Community Radio 855 AM • 3WBC Boroondara Community Radio 923 FM • ABC Mildura Swan Hill • Colac & Otway Community Radio 104.7 FM • Inner 96.5 FM Community Radio • RRR Community Radio 102.7 FM

Going online and being social WIRE also began advertising on Facebook (from August 2011) and on the Google search engine (from October 2011). Our Facebook ads targeted women above 18 years in metro and regional

“WIRE was very helpful and amazing. There is more help out there for women than I realised.”

Victoria, and reached 736,042 unique users with 5,738,507 impressions and 324 clicks. WIRE’s Google ads generated 395,680 impressions, and 4,528 clicks with an average search ranking position of 4.6. These campaigns reached women who had not heard of WIRE before or were searching for women’s services online, and helped women find WIRE’s services more easily and quickly. Our presence on social media continued to grow. In the last 12 months, WIRE posted 394 Tweets, now has 323 followers (compared to 166 followers on 30 June 2011), and received 94 mentions/ retweets about women’s events and news. WIRE’s Facebook page now has 278 Likes (82% female) up from 133 Likes last year, and reached 753,003 unique users. WIRE’s fortnightly E-bulletins continued to bring women’s events, opportunities and jobs in Victoria to over 2,100 subscribers. Over the past 12 months, we sent out 26 electronic issues from No. 75 to No. 98. WIRE volunteers and staff also shared stories, recipes and news in WIRE’s colourful, internal e-publication Las Chicas Link. WIRE members and supporters read about WIRE’s latest news and events in our biannual newsletters HotWIRE Issues No. 19 (August 2012) and No. 20 (March 2012).

Visiting organisations and building relationships Last year we were invited to give presentations about WIRE to various community organisations and meet women face-to-face at several community events around Melbourne. We made visits to Women with Disabilities Victoria & Self Advocacy Resource Unit at Ross House, Jewish Care and to Wintringham Housing. We also participated in conferences and events including:

• Griefline Services’s Supporting and Working with the Family Professional Conference (East Melbourne, 17/8/11) • Women’s Health East’s Stepping Out Community Event (Lilydale, 1/12/11) • City of Greater Dandenong’s Expo Launch of Adult Learners Week (Springvale, 6/9/11) • Hume City Council’s Women in Front—Networking Lunch Event (Broadmeadows, 30/8/11) • Australian College of Applied Psychology’s Volunteering Expo (Melbourne, 14/7/11) • We even managed to raise public awareness as well as $100 in August 2011 as part of Grill’d restaurant’s Charity Fundraiser program at Melbourne Central! Thanks to the hard work put in by WIRE volunteer Kay Gunn, WIRE also ran a project to reach out to community services in regional and rural Victoria to help support women living there. The issues these women face can often be exacerbated by their isolation and lack of easy access to support and community services. WIRE’s free, confidential and state-wide Telephone Support Service would be a good starting point for these women in getting the help they need. Through the Primary Care Partnerships (PCPs) network across Victoria, we undertook a phone and email campaign to inform all PCPs and their partner agencies about WIRE’s free and confidential Telephone Support Service for women as well as WIRE’s online resources. Building these relationships was especially key in the successful promotion of WIRE’s state-wide workshop series on educating community workers on supporting women who have experienced financial abuse in the context of family violence.

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012


“Fantastic experience! I feel empowered, engaged and positive about starting regular shifts! Thank you.”


WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

Voicing women’s issues and developing new resources and pathways Strategic Direction 2

Helping women get control of their money after family violence Did you need your partner’s permission to go shopping? Did he say you were useless with money? What happened when the credit card bill came in? Who controlled the money in your relationship? One in three women who contacted WIRE last year sought support in dealing with family violence, including financial abuse. WIRE’s daily conversations with women experiencing family violence and financial abuse has made us acutely aware of the need to educate women on how to manage money after experiencing financial abuse in the context of family violence.

“A great resource for financial counselors dealing with women struggling to find their financial ‘feet’.”

WIRE’s first-hand knowledge of women’s issues has led to our strong and ongoing research projects and education programs to build women’s literacy and economic security in Victoria. Our three-year Women and Money Month program (run in partnership with Queen Victoria Women’s Centre and the Office of Women’s Policy) recently received the MoneySmart Week 2012 Highly Commended Award. WIRE’s two research reports Young Women and Money Research Report (2010) and Women’s Financial Literacy Research Report (2007) have also been widely cited.

This year, Consumer Affairs Victoria funded WIRE’s state-wide workshop program for women who have experienced financial abuse in the context of family violence. Professional development workshops were also delivered for community service workers and professionals supporting women who have experienced family violence. The aim of these workshops were to help these women, as well as the community workers and professionals who support them, to: • Better understand how to manage money • Identify tactics of financial abuse in family violence Workshop participants also gained practical tools and skills on how to find their own financial ‘feet’, as well as to support clients on how to manage money after family violence. WIRE’s financial literacy project worker Sally Marsden researched and developed the program resources—a 77-page participant manual, a 34-page Trainer Guide for Workers and a 46-page Trainer Guide for Women. She also trained facilitators and delivered some workshops. In June 2012, 10 workshops were delivered for professionals in the family violence and financial counsellor sectors in five metropolitan locations and five regional locations. The response was overwhelming—a total of 97 workers attended the one-day professional development workshops, with waiting lists for six workshop locations.

• 91% of the workers rated the workshop as very good or excellent • 97.8% of the workers rated the participant manual as very good or excellent WIRE’s Mildura workshop for family violence workers on financial abuse was given TV news coverage by WIN TV News in Mildura on 19th September 2012. In July 2012, 17 women attended five women’s workshops run in five locations across Victoria. All women participants found the workshop useful and the workbook easy to understand. The workshop also increased all participants’ understanding of money and assisted women to identify the changes they could make in managing their money. The most useful aspects of the workshop for the women were: • The economic abuse power and control wheel • The information about finding support and help • Goal setting and personal action plans Interestingly this project also identified barriers women faced in attending these workshops—childcare, transport and work or study commitments got in the way, despite a clear need for this information and women’s desire to attend the workshops.

“Safe, open environment and very thoughtprovoking.

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012


Voicing women’s issues and developing new resources and pathways Strategic Direction 2

Helping women navigate the housing maze Can you imagine you and your son sleeping in your car every night, and him going to school the next morning? Emma* lost her home when she and her son fled her violent ex-partner. She rented a new flat, but was evicted when rent increased and became unaffordable on her part-time salary. She couldn’t maintain her employment and ended up unemployed and homeless. When she rang WIRE for help, she and her son were living in their car parked near her son’s school. With no money, job or home, and a dependent child, what are your housing options? Emma* was one of many women in Victoria who rang WIRE in the last 12 months with housing concerns. In Victoria many women (and their children) are homeless or at risk of homelessness, often due to family violence. Having heard first-hand from so many women who struggle to find affordable and safe housing for themselves and their children, WIRE saw the urgent need to develop an easy-to-use Housing Guide for Women in Victoria. This guide would give women who are experiencing housing crises clear and practical information on navigating their way through a complex housing system and a maze of community services. We plan to make this vital publication available to women and community services throughout Victoria in the coming financial year (in both print and online formats).

*E  mma is a fictitious name used to protect the privacy of the caller.


Raising funds for a Housing Guide for Women in Victoria WIRE set out to raise funds to develop this information booklet. This project was estimated to cost about $25,000— this amount would include the costs of researching, writing, editing, designing, printing, distributing and updating this proposed women’s housing guide. In response to our grant application, the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation contributed a $5,000 grant to go towards covering some costs. To help cover remaining costs, WIRE ran a successful Housing Guide Appeal from March to June 2012. Thanks to the generosity of WIRE members, volunteers and supporters, $3,589.24 was successfully raised to help other Victoria women and their families find a safe, secure and affordable home. We were also extremely grateful for the help we have received so far from WIRE volunteers and supporters, including research by Jessica Hunter, content review by Jeanette Large and Kristie Looney (Women’s Properties Initiatives) and copyediting by Chris Black. As we finalise the content and design for the housing guide, we are certainly looking forward to having it published and distributed so women can better navigate the housing maze in Victoria. Watch this space! WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

Voicing women’s concerns From listening and talking to women from all walks of life, we know about the issues and problems women face. Many of these issues arise from the social, economic and political inequalities faced by women in Australia in the workplace, within the community and at home. These include the 17.5% gender pay gap, the barriers women face when seeking secure paid work and leadership roles, the juggle between balancing paid work and caring for family, the sexualisation and commodification of the female body by advertisers, and the prevalence of violence against women in the home. Thanks to social media, WIRE has been able to raise general public awareness of current women’s issues by posting articles on women’s issues via WIRE’s Twitter and Facebook pages. WIRE’s posts are not only widely read and forwarded, they also generated dialogue and support from WIRE’s growing number of fans and followers on issues such as advocating women’s equal participation in the workforce, preventing violence against women, and protesting the sexualisation of women in the media.

NO to the sexualisation of women Increasingly recognised as a leading voice for women, WIRE was contacted by commercial television Channel Ten News to comment on the promotion of offensive T-shirts on an AFL footballer’s company website. WIRE CEO Samiro Douglas made a strong stand on Channel Ten News (3/5/12) against the sexualisation and objectification of women. A video of this news broadcast was subsequently posted on Youtube with over 800 views. wire-on-channel-ten-news/

Equal opportunity in the workplace for women WIRE warmly welcomed the introduction of the new Workplace Gender Equality Bill 2012 on 2nd March 2012. The Bill aims to ‘promote and improve gender equality (including equal remuneration between women and men) in employment and in the workplace’ through a simplified online reporting process for employers based on gender equality indicators.

Again input was sought from WIRE— community talkback radio 979FM contacted WIRE for comments on this new bill. WIRE CEO Samiro Douglas said that this new Bill would not only help close Australia’s widening gender pay gap of 18%, the use of gender equality indicators would spur employers and workplaces to remove barriers preventing women’s full and equal participation in the workforce. ‘Significantly the new act includes men as well as women, especially in relation to caring and family responsibilities,’ said CEO Douglas referring to the name change to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (from Equal Opportunity of Women in the Workplace Act 1999). ‘Women have too often been discriminated against in the workplace because of caring and family commitments, and been overlooked for leadership roles,’ said CEO Douglas. ‘It is fantastic that employers will now be required to report on the composition of their boards as well as workforce. Industry-specific minimum standards on gender equality will also ensure that attention is given to areas that need it most.’

While Australian women constitute 45.6% of the total labour force, they make up 70.2% of all part-time employees and only 35.3% of all fulltime employees. Only 13.5% of directors in the ASX 200 are women. Only 53.9% of organisations provide paid maternity leave. (Gender workplace statistics at a glance, January 2012, Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency) Currently women still shoulder the lion’s share of caring—some women continue to juggle part-time or casual work with family and childcare, while others leave the workforce to the detriment of their superannuation, long-term financial security and well-being. While the Paid Parental Leave Scheme has made it possible for men to take up caring responsibilities, the actual uptake of paid parental leave by men is still very low compared to women. Hopefully this new Workplace Gender Equality Bill 2012 will help to level the playing field by shifting attitudes and also enforcing more family friendly and equitable workplace practices.

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012


“I admire WIRE. Women’s issues need sensitive and specific handling and I think that WIRE addresses this.”


WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

Securing WIRE’s future for women in Victoria Strategic Direction 3

Increasing WIRE’s sustainability WIRE’s Strategic Plan 2011/2014 The development of WIRE’s new strategic plan gave us the opportunity to reflect and include a new strategic direction— increasing WIRE’s sustainability now and into the future. This led to a comprehensive analysis of WIRE’s financial capability, including the option of purchasing our own property. Moving to a new location would enable WIRE to explore new sources of funding and increase our capacity to enhance the services we deliver. After thorough consideration of WIRE’s financial capacity, we decided to continue to rent a property, but not lose sight of building WIRE’s financial capacity and looking to purchase our own property in the longer term. This forms a key part of WIRE’s strategy to increase our sustainability in the future.

WIRE’S Business Plan The next step was to develop a business plan to inform WIRE’s relocation and ensure our sustainability for the next three years. This included a review of WIRE’s current service, an analysis of the service sector and our place within this sector, and the identification of key service delivery enhancements that WIRE could work toward. WIRE not only connects women to relevant services and resources in Victoria, we also initiate programs and projects to improve employment and training pathways for women, build women’s financial literacy and security, and support women facing housing crises. For WIRE to continue to meet women’s changing needs in the future, it was important for us to build WIRE’s sustainability as an organisation and to increase WIRE’s capacity to expand services for women. The strategic plan and business plan carefully guided by WIRE’s philosophy involve:

• Expanding WIRE’s services as a women’s organisation, • Enabling WIRE to become more self-sustaining, • Developing strategic partnership with other organisations and • Moving to a new home that will provide room for expansion.

Moving on After eight years of calling Queen Victoria Women’s Centre home, WIRE made the tough decision to move to bigger premises within the Melbourne CBD later this year. Our coming move will not only open up new opportunities for WIRE in terms of expanding services, it will also be an integral step towards the achievement of WIRE’s strategic goals. The Board, staff and volunteers have been greatly inspired by the new possibilities our move to larger premises will offer.

Expanding WIRE’s services and training WIRE has so much to offer. Our Telephone Support Service and Women’s Centre provides information, support or just a listening ear to thousands of Victorian women each year. WIRE’s different programs also give women free access to training in basic computer skills, professional support when job searching, and information seminars on women’s topics presented by professionals and experts. As a registered training organisation, WIRE provides highly sought after

accredited training to WIRE’s phone and WIC volunteers. Many WIRE volunteers later find their experience at WIRE an invaluable stepping stone to other career pathways. WIRE’s ground-breaking research work and projects on women’s financial literacy have received praise from many quarters. The overwhelming response to WIRE’s ongoing financial literacy research reports and programs for women highlights women’s urgent need for more of such resources and programs.

The only thing stopping WIRE from doing more was the limitations of our physical location. The relocation to new premises and WIRE’s business plan will not only help us to enhance WIRE’s current services to women, they will also open up new opportunities and partnerships to deliver more financial literacy workshops, support women seeking employment, and ultimately, work toward improving women’s financial security now and into retirement. As always WIRE will continue to explore ways to improve the services we already provide.

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012



Chief Executive Officer Samiro Douglas

Board of Governance

Training Coordinator Sally Marsden (January–December 2011) Rebecca Callahan (from January 2012) Telephone Service Coordinator Martine Cribbes Finance and Administration Coordinator Kate Whiting Communication Coordinator Mi Fon Lew Women’s Information Centre Officers Jayanthi Balakrishna, Gemma McKibbin, Shannon Brown IT Consultant Elaine Cope (until November 2011) Financial Literacy Project Worker Sally Marsden (from January 2012)


Board Chair Anne Smyth

Deputy Chair Ingrid Wilson

Treasurer Geraldine Allen

Anne has an extensive background in education and organisational development, with considerable experience in health and community sectors. Anne is currently an organisational consultant and educator in the fields of management and leadership capability development, change and transition, organisational governance, coaching/ mentoring and social research. Anne has two adult children.

Ingrid joined the Board in 2010 and was appointed Deputy Chair in 2011. With a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and a Postgraduate Diploma in Law, Ingrid has over 15 years’ experience in policy and management roles in government in Australia (Federal and State) and in the UK (local government), and more recently in the not-for-profit sector. She has a strong interest in women’s issues and has previous board experience on the Board of the Women’s Environmental Network in the UK. She is currently undertaking a PhD full-time on preventing violence against women with Mother & Child Health Research, La Trobe University. Ingrid has two girls in primary school.

Geraldine joined the board in 2008 and is a CPA with a double degree in Accountancy and Hotel Management. She has 15 years’ experience working in corporate finance in research, health and not-for-profit sectors. She is currently Finance Manager at Fight Cancer Foundation.

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

Secretary & Public Officer Amy Cato

Board Member Ronniet Milliken

Board Member Julie Kun

Board Member Nicole Lynch

Ronniet joined the Board in October 2009. She has broad experience as in-house legal counsel, company secretary and board of management roles across the not-for-profit, private and government sectors, and is currently a solicitor. Ronniet has one young adult son.

Julie joined the Board in April 2010. She is a qualified social worker with over 14 years’ experience in community services in Melbourne, and is currently a Trade Unionist and organiser at the Australian Services Union. Julie has a daughter in primary school.

Nicole joined the Board in September 2010. She currently works in the government sector on strategic projects in tertiary education policy, with a focus on national reform directions in skills policy. She has a background in employment and industrial relations law, as well as extensive experience in communications training.

Board Member Meaghan Noble

Board Member Pauline Taylor

Board Member Catherine Donovan

Board Member Evangeline Arulrajah

Meaghan has over 14 years’ experience in financial services, and researched financial services tailored for women in the past five years. She has a Bachelor of Business (International Trade) and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Monash University. Meaghan is passionate about addressing women’s financial needs and helping them overcome financial challenges.

Pauline is committed to helping women better understand and manage their finances. She was a Finance and Economics Adviser in public and private sectors, and has worked in financial education. Now a Senior Policy Adviser at Small Business Victoria, Pauline develops finance programs for businesses. She recently completed post-graduate financial planning studies.

Cathy re-joined the Board in 2012. With a background in women’s policy, workforce participation programs, education and training, she developed policy and programs for early childhood, schools and the vocational education and training sector. She currently manages Access and Equity programs and policy within DEECD. Before 2000, she worked in the TAFE and ACE sector.

Evangeline has a social work background in Australia and overseas. She has been a qualified lawyer in top tier private firms in areas such as commercial litigation, construction, insurance, corporate and government. She also has in-house legal experience and is currently a senior corporate lawyer for the Victorian Government.

Amy joined the Board in June 2010. She is an executive recruitment and training professional, prior to which she was director of her own firm. In 2011, Amy took on the dual office bearer roles of WIRE Board Secretary and Public Officer. She is currently in a senior role for a global recruitment company.

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012


Volunteers, members and supporters We give our heartfelt thanks to our wonderful and growing family of WIRE volunteers, members and supporters for all their contribution towards helping WIRE support other women in Victoria.

Telephone Support Service Volunteers AJ Seckold Alice Parlitsos Alissa Ranieri Allana Olah Anastasia Cole Angela Anestis Angela Chambers (Team Leader) Anne-Lise Ah-fat Belinda Kerrison Belle Ganglmair (Team Leader) Cagla Rifat Clare Chudacek Crina Virgona Danielle Lintern Debbie Kras Elena Leddra Elizabeth Maddison (Team Leader) Emma Menkionska Felicia Nisi Heather Smith Heidi Klaesi Hywell Sebastian Jacqueline Dacy Jaffa Goebel Withers Jane Libbis Jane Webb (Team Leader)

Janet Le Cornu (Team Leader) Janet Stevens (Team Leader) Jasmine Toh Ming Wong Hill Jeanette Russell Jenna Reedyk Jenny Hensell Jeska Rees Jessica Hunter Jessica Stott Jill McDonald (Team Leader) Joy Furlong Karen Santos Karen Tanfield Kate Volard (Team Leader) Katrina Ciesielczyk Kay Gunn Leah Zelencich Libby Blake Lisa Ritchie Lorna Jane O’Doherty Lorraine Harley Lucille Hughes Lydia Finlayson Lydia Ke Xin Fong Lyndal Chapman (Team Leader) Margaret Purdey Maria Katergaris Marie Macdonald

Maritza Burgos Mary Bryan Melissa Kelly Melissa Thomas (Team Leader) Moira Darling Natalia Sopelario Nava Serra Nina Jankelson Philippa Wilson Rebecca Delohery (Team Leader) Rebecca Lui Rian Mackenzie (Team Leader) Robyn McIver Ronnit Schreiber Roxanne Boubis (Team Leader) Samantha Charlesworth (Team Leader) Samara Hackett Sandra Lewis Sarah Rostron Sayo Fujita Si Tan Toula Giotas Tyrell Heathcote (Team Leader) Valerie Donlon Yoke Fausten

WIC volunteers Erika Behrmann Grace Tan Janet Stevens Kay Gunn Rosemary Landau Sue Cox

Admin volunteers Antonio Del Campo Catherine Grey Christine Choi Claire Zhang Erika Behrmann Grace Tan Jessica Hunter Kay Gunn Victoria Upward

WIRE Volunteers’ Week Morning Tea invitation


WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

Key Funders

WIRE Donors

Project Funding

Program Supporters

Department of Human Services—Children, Youth and Families Division

Our heartfelt thanks to all who have generously donated funds to WIRE and also to those who kindly helped us raise funds for our WIRE Appeal 2012: Housing Guide for Women in Victoria

City of Melbourne for the update and printing of Young people who use violence in the home information booklet

Doutta Galla Community Health Service staff who attended Crafternoon sessions (WIC)

Consumer Affairs Victoria for funding the development of Helping women get control of their money after family violence project and delivery of state-wide workshops

Human Resource professionals Amy Cato and Caitlin Burns who facilitated Career Club sessions (WIC)

Office of Women’s Policy (Victorian Government)

“I came away with very useful information to better support the women who use our service, and to share with my colleagues.”

WISE Employment staff who facilitated weekly Job Club sessions (WIC)

Lord Mayor Charitable Foundation for funding the development of WIRE’s housing guide for women in Victoria NEC Australia Broadband for our Seniors program Nicholes Family Lawyers for funding our information seminars (July 2011–June 2012) State Library of Victoria for our Community ICT Skills Grant (Digital social connection for senior citizens and computer literate and job ready training)

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WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012


Concise Financial Report FOR THE YEAR ENDED 30 JUNE 2O12

Statement of Comprehensive Income for the Year Ended 30 June 2012

Balance Sheet as at 30 June 2012

2012 2011 $ $


Current assets

Grant income



Cash and cash equivalents

Training fees



Trade and other receivables

Interest received



Other current assets

Donation and appeal income



Total current assets




Other income



Total Revenue



Expenses Employee benefits

2012 2011 $ $









Plant and equipment



Total non-current assets







Non current assets

Total assets



Depreciation expense



Current liabilities




Trade and other payables

Other expenses






Total expenses



Total current liabilities






Total non-current liabilities



Total liabilities



Net assets



Accumulated funds



Total equity



Operating Surplus/(Deficit) for the year



Total Comprehensive Income for the Year



Non current liabilities


The accompanying notes form part of this Concise Financial Report


WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

Statement of Changes in Equity for the Year Ended 30 June 2012

Notes to the Concise Financial Report for the Year Ended 30 June 2012

$ Accumulated Funds Balance at 1 July 2010


Operating Surplus


Balance at 30 June 2011


Operating Deficit Balance at 30 June 2012

(4,672) 404,643

Statement of Cash Flows for the Year Ended 30 June 2012

2012 2011 $ $

Cash flows from operating activities Receipts from grants (recurrent) Receipts from other sources Payments to suppliers and employees





(672,849) (696,318)

Interest received



Net cash provided by operating activities



Cash flows from investing activities Purchase of plant and equipment



Net cash (used in)/provided by investing activities



Net increase in cash held



Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of financial year



Cash at end of financial year



1. Statement of Significant Accounting Policies (a) Organisational Information/Reporting Entity Women’s Information and Referral Exchange Inc. (“WIRE Inc.” or “the Organisation”) is an Incorporated Association in Victoria as defined by the Act (1981). The Organisation is also identified as a non-profit public benevolent institution. (b) Basis of preparation The Concise Financial Report is an extract for the full Financial Report for the year ended 30 June 2012. The Concise Financial Report has been prepared in accordance with Accounting Standard AASB 1039: Concise Financial Reports. The financial statements, specific disclosures and other information included in the Concise Financial Report are derived from and are consistent with the full Financial Report of Women’s Information and Referral Exchange Inc. The concise financial report cannot be expected to provide as detailed an understanding of the financial performance, financial position and financing and investing activities of WIRE Inc. as the full Financial Report. The presentation currency used in this Concise Financial report is Australian dollars. 2. Segment Information WIRE Inc. provides free information support and referrals to women across Victoria.

Board of Management Declaration The Board of Management of WIRE Inc. declares that the Concise Financial Report of WIRE Inc. for the financial year ended 30 June 2012, as set out on pages 22 to 23. a) complies with Accounting Standard AASB 1039: Concise Financial Reports; and b) is an extract from the full Financial Report for the year ended 30 June 2012 and has been derived from and is consistent with the full Financial Report of WIRE Inc. This declaration is made in accordance with a resolution of the Board of Management.

Deputy Chair Ingrid Wilson The accompanying notes form part of this Concise Financial Report

Treasurer Geraldine Allen

Dated this 18 September 2012

WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012


Independent Auditor’s Report to the members of women’s information and referral exchange inc.


WIRE Women’s Information Annual Report 2012

Get involved! You might like to join our volunteer board, offer your professional services to us or volunteer in the Women’s Information Centre and/or the office. Call (03) 9921 0870 to discuss the possibilities.

Are you a professional?

Apply to be added to WIRE’s professional register Many women who contact WIRE are looking for a female doctor, lawyer, counsellor or other professional to support them. For this reason, we are always looking to add to our register of female practitioners. If you would like to register, you can find information and forms at under ‘Get Involved’ or call (03) 9921 0870 to find out more. While there is no set registration fee, your donation would be greatly appreciated. Women’s Information Referral Exchange Inc. is a registered Public Benevolent Institution. Donations to WIRE are tax deductible under section 78(4) of the Income Tax Assessment Act (1936).

Ways you can support WIRE Are you passionate about supporting and empowering Victorian women? Do you love WIRE’s work and want to help? Donate Volunteer WIRE is the only independent state-wide generalist information service run for women by women in Australia. We receive funding from the State Government but we rely on grants and donations from organisations and individuals to help us extend our services and spread the word about WIRE. Donations to WIRE are tax deductible and can be made online at under ‘Get Involved’ or by

phoning (03) 9921 0870.

Become a WIRE member

Show your support for WIRE by becoming a member. It only costs $50 or $25 (concession) per year to join. You will receive our biannual HotWIRE and invitations to WIRE events including the AGM. You can now join online at under ‘Get Involved’.

If you are over 21 years old with good communication skills and are open to diversity, you might like to volunteer in our phone service and Women’s Information Centre. You need to complete our training and be able to commit to a four-hour shift (during business hours) per week for at least a year.

Call 1300 134 130 for more information and to register your interest.


Editor Mi Fon Lew Communication Coordinator design & production Lin Tobias La Bella Design & Lorna Hendry Text & Type photography Gabriella Favretto, Catherine Grey and WIRE printer Classic Colour Melbourne edition 100 units October 2012 Women’s Information and Referral Exchange Inc. Reg. No. A122 ABN 98 957 157 895 WIRE Women’s Information ©2012

Printed on Australian-made REVIVE Laser 100% recycled. FSC 速 and Carbon Neutral certified and supporting Landcare Australia

WIRE Women's Information Annual Report 2012  
WIRE Women's Information Annual Report 2012  

WIRE Women's Information Annual Report 2012