Amanda is one of Loddon Campaspe CLC’s many volunteers. She is working with our Tipping the Scale project in Maryborough.
Tipping the Scales is a Community Justice Partnership and justice reinvestment program. It works alongside partner organisations to provide clients with timely legal advice and to engage them with appropriate supports. The partnership’s Lawyer and Community Development Worker provide a point of contact for vulnerable clients seeking legal advice and/or representation at Maryborough courts.
The project’s work focuses on family violence and child protection matters but recognizes that criminal law and family law are often inextricably linked to these issues.
Amongst other tasks, Amanda is helping us to survey Maryborough Magistrates’ Court users to better understand their experiences and preferred justice outcomes.
We asked Amanda to tell us a little about herself, her vision for Maryborough and her motivations for volunteering.
I had the pleasure of watching my dad serve in the military. This gave me the opportunity to live in various places around Australia. I spent most of my childhood in Victoria but the earlier years in Queensland where I was born. On a posting to the Territory, I was able to study at the Northern Territory University, where I earned my Diploma in Children’s Services. The Diploma gave me a head start that ended up with my graduating as a Social Worker. And now I am a full-time mum and Volunteer Extraordinaire. Never did I think my path in life would be so varied.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Rob and Annika in the Tipping the Scales project. It has allowed me to see how the justice system has changed since I was catapulted into it years ago during the most horrific time in my life. It has given me hope: here is a project that is changing the narrative around family violence in my community, where the issue is so prevalent.
As a member of the Maryborough Family Violence Action Group I represent the voices of women with lived experience of family violence. The group offers an important insight into the issue that is unfamiliar to others.
My vision for my community is one that does not contain violence, where every man, woman and child can grow up safe, valued and respected. I want to see a world where family and friends of loved ones can speak up if they witness unacceptable behaviour, where there are enough support services to help survivors. I want my children to know what a healthy, safe, valued and respected relationship or friendship looks like. And I want this knowledge to become a fundamental requisite in every teaching facility across the country, including early years.
I love lots of things about Maryborough. My community is supportive, generous, innovative and giving. I am grateful that we have our eyes open when it comes to disadvantage and that we are not scared to hold the difficult conversations, that we can see the need for change and are taking positive steps toward changing the narrative.
I have learnt that I have so much to give as a volunteer. I have learned that I have skills that are valued and that I can have a voice in my community and my children’s lives. I have learned that being a volunteer can be so rewarding and that without volunteers so many organisations and agencies and communities just wouldn’t survive.
Ultimately, I want to see an end to family violence. I want woman and children to be believed when they speak up. It takes so much strength to say something to someone. Being believed is a fundamental right. The justice system needs to change to keep perpetrators accountable and to help drive change around this hideous crime. And I want adequate support systems to respond to the impact of family violence on survivors. I want all forms of violence to STOP.
If I could say one thing to somebody thinking about volunteering, I’d say, if you have the passion and you know a community group or organisation that can use it, then do it.