What We Do
Women and Mentoring (WAM) began operating in the City of Yarra (in Melbourne) working with the Neighbourhood Justice Centre in 2009, and in 2015 received funding from the Melbourne Women’s Fund to replicate the program in the Sunshine Magistrates Court precinct.
With recent funding from the Victorian Legal Services Board we aim to support over 200 women over the next three years to get their life back on track, navigate the overwhelming criminal justice system, and build their capacity and skills to improve their life outcomes. As such, we now also receive referrals for women presenting at Melbourne & Heidelberg Magistrates Courts.
Over the coming months we will also have opportunity to bring the program to Frankston Magistrates Court, and then Broadmeadows by 2020.
WAM offers a unique, early intervention program that supports women charged with a criminal offence by matching them individually with a supportive female mentor. The volunteer mentors are trained and resourced to provide appropriate support to the program participants, to share their skills and to contribute to the wider community.
The program has made a significant positive difference to the participants’ confidence, coping mechanisms and capacity to respond to their legal matters and address the issues that underlie their offending. The vast majority of the participants have avoided a prison sentence and have not re-offended.
The WAM program has always been strongly community-based. We rely on relationships within the community to support the program and to refer participants to it.
"Our mission is to assist women in their early interaction with the justice system through the provision of a formal mentoring relationship. This will provide them with a pathway to develop and use positive life skills."
Ann Polis (Founding Chair)