Recently, we had a special guest presenting at our Caring Mums New Volunteers Training - Alison Barker, Maternal Child and Health Nurse from the City of Glen Eira.
One of our new volunteers, Jessie, shared with us that this session brought up many personal memories for her. Jessie was kind enough to share these with us - especially the vital role that the nurses played for her when she was a new mum.
Thank you, Jessie, for giving us this special window into your life.
"When my daughter was born, everything was fine. She was a healthy, strong baby without problems. Perhaps I had a problem of feeding her too much!
Fifteen months later my son was born; he had a few minor health issues but nothing major until he was about 7 or 8 months old when he started projectile vomiting, diarrhoea and incessant crying. He was so miserable and sad. He started to drastically lose weight each week.
I kept going to doctors, sometimes twice a week, where he was continually either diagnosed with flu or gastro problems! I went to different doctors trying to seek a reason, and soon they would say I was just being an anxious and nervous mother. I knew this was not right and I would say, ‘I have a 2yr old daughter, and I know there is definitely something wrong’. Soon he had a distended stomach and loose skin on his arms, so of course I became even more distressed and emotional and continued looking for answers.
By this stage I was going to the MCH centre each week and sometime twice a week for a weigh in to find he was still losing weight…(I can still picture the minus red “weight data” in my book). It was obvious that he was unable to absorb food.
This kept going on until he was almost 11 months old. I was eventually able to get an appointment with a paediatrician at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
When I attended the MCH Centre on this particular week, I let her know that I was had an appointment but had to wait 3 months.
She was so upset that she called the paediatrician immediately and said, “No, you need to see this baby today, not in 3 months, not in 2 weeks, but right now!!” I immediately went to RCH to meet with the paediatrician. For the first time in a long time, I felt some relief.
My son was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and was put on an appropriate diet and his weight managed. Because of his condition, he was hospitalised for 3 weeks.
Just before his first birthday, he came home a changed little boy. He was a happy, playful, energetic boy from that day onwards. Today he is a very athletic, strong young man with three boys of his own, so thankfully I am pleased to say, it all turned out okay.
I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for the Maternal Child and Health Nurse who attended to both of my children, my son would have been very, very ill. I was very lucky to have had the Health Nurse I had… she listened to me and truly was a life saver.
From this experience, I realised that if you have an instinct or gut feeling something is not right, don’t give up… you need to be persistent. You need to be an advocate for your children. Living in Victoria, we are so fortunate to have this amazing free service. There is always someone there to talk to, give advice and reassurance".
If you need professional advice please call your local Maternal and Child health Centre or the Maternal and Child 27/7 hotline on 13 22 29.
“In order to enable gender equality change, we require support at the most senior level of the organisation. There is also a need to review every practice, policy and process that the organisation has through a gendered lens” said Lee-anne Chapman (Group Manager, Uniting) at our recent Gender Equality Webinar: Tips, Hurdles and Successes – Deep Dive.
During the webinar, hosted by CEO Alexandra Silver, Lee-anne reflected on the potential organisational challenges in order to achieve gender equality in the workplace. One of those challenges is enabling flexible working arrangements. “Even in 2020, there is a constant reaction about roles being part time rather than full time at leadership levels” she noted.
“There is so much more work to be done in the gender equality space” said Rabbi Daniel Rabin (South Caulfield Hebrew Congregation) at the webinar and added “when we think about gender equality in synagogues or in religious organisations, each congregation has its own set of values. And whatever the approach is - it has to be genuine, with empathy and respect to others. Regardless of which way you are inclined in terms of religious observant, there is no excuse to use it as a mechanism or means to try to discriminate anybody – on the basis of gender or orientation”.
Rabbi Rabin addressed a number of aspects on how to achieve gender equality in the orthodox arena. “In my view, every congregation needs to have female representatives – with vision and leadership abilities” said Rabbi Rabin. He explained that women can and should have a strong presence in congregations (i.e. on boards and events). The role of the Rebbetzin is certainly one of leadership.
If you missed the webinar (or you would like to watch it again or share it) the recording of the webinar is now available on our YouTube channel.
Thank you, Glen Eira News, for raising awareness for our Caring Mums program. The article was published today in the latest edition of the paper (below):
Being a new mum has its joys as well as challenges, especially if you don’t have a strong support network around you. “No mother should have to feel alone on her journey of motherhood” — this is the motto of Caring Mums, a program of the National Council of Jewish Women Australia Victoria (NCJWA Vic). Caring Mums formed almost a decade ago, is a free and confidential service which provides emotional support to new mothers and pregnant women for a period of up to 12 months.
As part of the program, each volunteer completes professional training before being matched with a mother. Caring Mums also includes volunteers’ supervision and feedback networks to provide support and guidance.
Team member Naomi Swart said that due to COVID-19, in March Caring Mums adapted its program to operate successfully online. Currently, there are close to 80 mothers using the service, with new referrals being processed daily. Each volunteer is connecting with a mother via FaceTime or Zoom on a weekly basis. “Being heard as well as being seen is really important as it enables an emotional connection to be formed,” she said.
“Some of our matches have not yet met in person due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, they have built up a strong connection.” Naomi said being a new mum during this time of COVID-19 can be tough, and the service has experienced an increase in requests for support outside of its current catchment areas. “Caring Mums Extended Reach is designed to provide emotional support for a period of four months to new mothers outside of the Cities of Glen Eira, Bayside, Stonnington, Kingston, Port Philip, Boroondara and Yarra,” she said. “The response to this extended program has been extremely positive.”
Naomi said Caring Mums has also moved other parts of its program online, including a weekly mothers’ group and supervision of volunteers. Caring Mums also introduced a monthly newsletter, which includes additional support and interesting articles.
“During COVID-19 we have successfully trained and welcomed more than 30 volunteers to our family,” she said. “It is so pleasing to see how our wonderful volunteers and mums have adapted during this time. The feedback we are receiving from everyone is heart-warming and affirms that our services are needed now more than ever.”
If you are a mum, or know of a mum, who would like to join the Caring Mums program, visit www.ncjwavic.org.au /caringmums
Glen Eira City Council awarded NCJWA Vic with a “COVID-19 Community Action Grant”. This grant is for the purchase of sneeze guards, sanitiser stations and sanitisers - all part of our COVID-19 Safe Plan to return to the office, when restrictions will allow.
Thank you, Glen Eira City Council, for assisting NCJWA Vic in such a meaningful way!
Caulfield Park Community Bank Branch (Bendigo Bank) recently awarded NCJWA Vic with a 2019-2020 Community Sponsorship.
Thank you, Caulfield Park Community Bank Branch, for your ongoing and special support of our organisation!
We were honoured to be included in The Australian Jewish News special feature on Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) z’l her legacy, published today. Our CEO, Alexandra P. Silver, shared her personal connection to RBG; the qualities and accomplishments she admires; and important life lessons for the next generation of young women.
While streaming Rosh Hashanah services early Saturday morning, I learned of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. I broke down and cried. Even though I had never met her, the sense of loss was profound, and the fear was real. One of the most accomplished, groundbreaking Jewish women leaders of our time was gone. As the new CEO of NCJWA Vic, an organisation whose mission is to empower women and girls to create a better world, her death hit close to home. I told our twin daughters the closest living woman to Wonder Woman had died.
Raised in Northern New Jersey, I spent a significant part of my childhood at my Grandma Tillie’s in Brooklyn; not too far from where RBG grew up. After graduating high school, I, like many of my American peers, went away to college 500 miles from home. I was determined to become an educated, self-sufficient, and independent woman. It was during this time, after facing antisemitism on campus, that I first became involved with organised Jewish community. And it was also during this time that RBG became the second woman and the first Jewish person to sit on the highest court in the land.
I was in awe and inspired. If she could be a Supreme Court Justice, what could I become?
Throughout my college career and beyond, I aspired to be a leader like RBG; one who builds consensus and builds others up instead of tearing their opponent down. The genius behind her accomplishments was her demeanour and approach. She did not carry a big stick. She carried herself with class and dignity.
As a Jewish working mother, I am inspired by RBG’s ability to graduate number one in her ivy league law school class – even after becoming a wife and mother, way ahead of her time. I am in awe of what she achieved, especially given how society treated women during that period. One could say her achievements and success were likely to be considered impossible. When Hillary Clinton ran for president, she often spoke of cracking the highest glass ceiling in the land. Well, let me tell you, it was RBG who broke the door down. She paved the way for women like me and you to find our voice, develop it and use it for the greater good.
RBG is a cultural icon and the beacon of hope for many. Regardless of political affiliation, she was a woman to watch and a force to be reckoned with. Even while battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she never missed a day on the bench. She had strength, determination and grit. I equate RBG to a featherweight fighter; she may not look strong or tough but don’t count her out, she carries quite a punch. She did not just fight for those who agreed with her, or for people who were like her or just for Jewish women – she fought for all of us – all women and even for men.
RBG fought for people who despised her and those who even thought she was un-American. She persevered, dissented, and she never stopped working to ensure we were all treated equally, fairly and without prejudice.
This is the world I want for my girls and yours.
Last week, we officially launched the external evaluation of The Jam Project. The purpose of this evaluation is to provide an independent assessment of the program, and to identify any opportunities for improvement.
All participants, buddies and parents who were part of the program since its launch in 2017 were invited to complete a survey. Further on, interviews as well as a dedicated workshop will take place. After the data will be reviewed, we will hold a special presentation of the findings.
This project is being conducted by Jo Farmer Consulting and Judy Gold - expert evaluators in the areas of health and wellbeing among young people.
Thank you, Gandel Philanthropy, for supporting this important evaluation.
Our new CEO, Alexandra Silver, has been featured in the latest The Shtick episode. “New CEO of NCJW Vic., Alexandra Silver zooms in to introduce herself to our community as the lady to take the National Council of Jewish Women (Vic) to the next level of achievement in the field of women's empowerment and advancement. Being here from the USA only for the past year, Alexandra is keen on her new role and passionate about the important projects that NCJW Vic has delivered so successfully over many years”- The Shtick.
Watch Alexandra’s interview at The Shtick:
The National Council of Jewish Women Vic mourns the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg z’l. Ginsburg, the first female Jewish member of the U.S. Supreme Court, died on one of the holiest days in Judaism, Erev Rosh Hashanah as many of her country’s nearly six million Jews welcomed the new year 5781, based on the Hebrew calendar. Those who die on the new year holiday are considered “tzadik,” a title given to the righteous and saintly. She was 87.
Ginsburg was raised in a secular household but explained in 2018 that her religious background influenced her life’s work: “I am a judge, born, raised and proud of being a Jew. The demand for justice, for peace and for enlightenment runs through the entirety of Jewish history and Jewish tradition.” Ginsburg was a great Justice, a woman of valour, and became something of a hero to liberal women for her decades-long battle in pursuit of women's rights and gender equality.
In 2017, Australia was ranked 35th on a global index measuring gender equality, slipping from a high point of 15th in 2006. While Australia scores very highly in the area of educational attainment, there is still a lot of progress to be made in the areas of economic participation and opportunity and political empowerment.
The work of the NCJWA Vic is not done, our campaign #makespaceforher is a step in the right direction to ensure women are equally represented. We remember and honour RBG’s legacy and will work to continue her life’s work as women, wives and mothers we remember her and the words of the Torah: "Justice, justice, shall you pursue."
Caring Mums is seeking supervisors (volunteer role) to provide group support to our wonderful, dedicated volunteers. “No woman has to be alone on her journey of motherhood” is the motto of our Caring Mums program. As part of this vital program, trained volunteers provide weekly emotional support to pregnant women and new mothers. We work across several municipalities and offer limited support to those outside of these catchment zones.
Ideally, supervisors will have a qualification or experience in the fields of psychology, social work, counselling, group work and the perinatal sector.
Time commitment: minimum 2 hours per fortnight, plus 2 hours every 6 weeks for professional group supervision.
For more information contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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