22 April 2024

Pregnancy can be a time of hope and change

| Jacqueline Lyons
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Mother holding her newborn

Karinya House offers support for new mothers across the region. Photo: Karinya House.

Pregnancy is a time of heightened vulnerability for women, but it can also be a time for hope and change. That’s the message Canberra’s Karinya House wants to spread to the community.

For more than two decades, the not-for-profit group has been helping mothers and their children and those who are in crisis with the changes they experience while going through motherhood.

Karinya House Chief Executive Officer Lavinia Tyrrel says that while women experience significantly higher vulnerabilities before and after pregnancy, parenting can also be a life-changing experience to go through.

“While we know that women are at higher risk of factors such as domestic violence when they are pregnant, it is also a time when some women are looking to use their agency and make change in their lives – to chart a journey forward for themselves and their babies or children,” she says.

“New and expectant mothers will often think about the future as well as reflect on their past more during the perinatal period.”

The organisation has helped more than 2700 Canberra women and their families and believes that number will continue to grow.

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“We know that demand for our services is likely to increase, so we never want to turn anyone away no matter what they need,” Lavinia says.

“Everything we do starts with a woman and her needs, so we must offer a wide range of services – everything from driving lessons to assisting with cost of living pressures – so that women have the opportunity to chart a safe and supported path forward for their children.

“Karinya House believes that no woman can achieve her goals without having safety, support and the essentials for raising a child.”

It is this belief that keeps the team working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure everyone has access to these necessities.

The services Karinya House provides are becoming increasingly important as women who are pregnant and parenting experience higher rates of domestic and family violence, homelessness and poverty than almost any other cohort.

May is a month of fundraising for the charity, kicking off with a Home Hope Horizon luncheon to be held at the Hyatt Hotel on Thursday, 2 May, with all money going directly back to support services for women, their babies and children.

Last year they raised more than $40,000 but they are hopeful they will double it this time to continue their year-round work.

“I want every single woman in Canberra to know that we are here for them regardless of their situation,” Lavinia says.

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This month marks a year since Lavinia was appointed CEO and she says she loves every moment of the job.

“It is just the most amazing privilege, being able to support a woman and her children for a brief moment in her journey,” Lavinia says.

“We pride ourselves on being a complete wrap-around service, as we must respond to each woman’s unique needs and journey.

“People are often surprised to know how challenging pregnancy is for many women in our community, especially those impacted by trauma, and thus how varied a woman and her children’s needs are – from GP costs and baby bottles, to legal advice and safe accommodation. But it is through the support of the ACT community, alongside government, that we can provide women with the opportunity to gain or regain confidence, safety and independence.”

Lavinia says while the financial support of the community and their partners is vital to keeping the service running, it also shows that the community believes in supporting women to gain independence and empowerment.

Donations to the Home Hope Horizon appeal can be made via Karinya House


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