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Women’s Justice Network advances the well-being of women at risk of the criminal justice system

3 min read
Women’s Justice Network

The Women’s Justice Network (WJN) is a grassroots community organisation committed to advancing the prospects and well-being of women and girls affected or at risk of the criminal justice system.

They provide gender-responsive social support, and engage women and girls in the community, a safe space that is non-stigmatised fosters a positive self-identity enabling every woman and girl to live the life they deserve to and support women and girls vulnerable to reoffending in making choices that positively contribute to the community.

In 2021, Women’s Justice Network was a finalist for Third Sector Awards 2022. The team talked about their motivation to continue making a positive impact on the community, the people who supported their success and what they can say about being a finalist for the award.

  1. What was your driving force to continue making a positive impact despite the difficult times?

It has been the difficult times themselves that have been our driving force to continue making a positive impact for the women and girls at risk of or involved with the criminal justice system. 

The pandemic has posed a significant and unusual challenge for everyone. It has also been a time in which our clients are facing new challenges, which we have never had to assist them in overcoming. This has forced our team to adapt and alter our existing support systems, in order to ensure we remain able to provide our clients with the best possible support they require. 

At WJN we have come to understand that whilst COVID-19 may have made our lives difficult when we compare it to the added challenges our clients continue to face, we need to be innovative in overcoming these difficult times whilst striving to make a positive impact for women. 

The current health crisis has significantly impacted the social, psychological, emotional and financial wellbeing of women, both in custody and post-release, most significantly placing additional strain on public housing demand for those being released from custody, and reducing opportunities for contact with friends, family and loved ones for those in custody (support which has empirically been shown to reduce recidivism rates). 

All people in contact with the criminal justice system need assistance to successfully transition from criminal trajectories, some more than others, but unless there are organisations and staff like ours who are committed to filling this gap and improving the outcomes of those engaged with the criminal justice system we, society, are setting them up for failure. This too is what drives us as an organisation, to ensure that women and girls are provided with the best chances to achieve positive outcomes. 

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  1. What tools helped you achieve your success at Women’s Justice Network?

Our staff, volunteers, community support and service providers in the sector are our most important resources in regard to achieving success. Without the dedication and commitment of our staff and volunteers, we would not be able to deliver the necessary assistance and support so many women in contact with the criminal justice system need. And of course, the women and girls impacted by the criminal justice system are part of our success when they thrive and flourish. 

Social media is an important tool that allows us to communicate messages to the public not only about the work we do but of the statistics and stories of women who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The community has also been exponentially helpful in bringing to light the plight of women and girls in the system, by sharing their stories, offering to volunteer and providing monetary and other materials to assist women and girls. 

  1. What can you say about being a finalist in the Third Sector Awards 2021?

We are grateful for the passion, energy, commitment and persistence of all women involved with WJN, who are doing work that very few others in this country do. These women, some from lived-experience backgrounds, use their knowledge, their trauma, compassion and channel that into ensuring other women will not have to face the same. 

We appreciate that the valuable work and the women that walk alongside women are being recognised with this nomination. This recognition was made possible by the successes of our incredible clients who have made strides in their personal journeys post incarceration, with the help and support of our WJN team. The nomination has also been extremely humbling, as we have made it to the finals with an inspiring group of fellow Australian charities. We would like to thank them for all the incredible work they do in their respective fields, and let them know we are honoured to be recognised as finalists alongside them.

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Lourdes Antenor is an experienced writer who specialises in the not-for-profit sector and its affiliations. She is the content producer for Third Sector News, an online knowledge-based platform for and about the Australian NFP sector.


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