Bega, New South Wales

Establishing a garden bed isn’t a priority for women struggling with family violence or mental health issues. But at the Women’s Resource Centre in Bega there’s a sense of hope that anything’s possible.

With support and the talents of three local women, a series of workshops offered at the Centre unearthed talent, gave women a sense of achievement and taught skills that many can use into the future.  Centre coordinator Laura Wilcox said the gardening, singing meditation and mosaic workshops, which received John Wallis Foundation support, broke down a lot of social barriers, attracting women from across the socio-economic spectrum. She said women living with family violence or mental health issues were ‘creating’ alongside a woman who came because she wanted to learn mosaics.

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“One of the other great things about these workshops is that as well as learning a great craft or skill, the women do meet other women who are in similar situations to them. They start exchanging stories and realise they are not alone,” Laura said.

“We have worked to create a really safe place and the workshops, that bring women together, reinforce that.”

One woman who attended the gardening workshop by Kathleen McCann (pictured) said the learning was wonderful and so was the laughter they shared.

“I absolutely loved this. My knowledge of gardening has increased and now I can grow seedlings at home that we did in our last class,” she said.

Laura said the workshops, especially the singing meditation, pushed people out of their comfort zones and gave them a sense of achievement.