‘I MATTER’: JRS Australia launches peer-to-peer circle of support program for women experiencing violence

12 April 2021

I Matter - peer to peer support group

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia Finding Safety project is dedicated to supporting women to live free from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). 

It is one of the only specialist services in New South Wales providing a range of services to women seeking asylum, women on temporary visas and women with complex migration history who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing different forms of gender-based violence. 

Last year the JRS Australia Finding Safety project supported more than 700 women on temporary visas experiencing or at risk of violence at the JRS Australia Women’s Space in Western Sydney.

Providing a platform for leadership

Our call to accompany, serve and advocate is interpreted at the JRS Australia Women’s Space as a call for us to follow the lead of the women themselves. 

They are the experts in their lives, and we build our support around this lived expertise. No one understands better than women how they can heal from past trauma, make changes in their lives and the lives of their children and regain the dignity that has been taken from them through acts of violence, as well as systems and structures that reinforce gender inequality, sexism and discrimination. 

One thing that women regularly share with us at the JRS Women’s Space is that social connection to other women from similar walks of life is incredibly important to them. Women talk to us about how isolated and alone they have felt, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

They tell us how hearing from other women about the path they have walked, and sharing their own insight makes them feel less alone and more determined to keep going. 

“It is good to talk, I feel better to speak with other women who maybe experienced the same as me. It is important to feel connection to other women. I am not alone” – participant in ‘I MATTER’ 

What is ‘I MATTER’? 

Having this validation is empowering and uplifting and so the Finding Safety team have developed a free women’s circle of support program called ‘I MATTER.’  

This is a weekly program for all women on temporary visas, and with particular lived experience of seeking refuge. 

Women who register join other women with similar life experiences, and together they will be guided by trained facilitators through a four-week program that builds on their strengths, skills and stories. 

I MATTER is about safety. It is about being heard, understood, and valued. 

I MATTER is about companionship, and support. It is about sharing, listening and building connections with other women. 

I MATTER is a stepping stone to other opportunities to help participants achieve their dreams and goals.

If you or someone you know would like to participate in I MATTER- we warmly invite you to register by contacting the Finding Safety Project Officer Shatha Jajo on 0422 065 549 or women@jrs.org.au