Aunties 101 – About Us

Welcome to The Aunties – I’m Jackie. I’m the Aunty In Charge. This is my seventh year of working with women who are living or who have lived in DV.

If you’re curious about what I/we do, it is simply this. I am the interface between  a number of community organisations, and a burgeoning number of individual women, and a group of people called The Aunties. Aunty Phil also works closely with the women. Our mission statement is to provide joy and dignity to all vulnerable people, particularly women and children who have lived and are living in family violence.

There are only two of us who work on the frontline, as it were. There is a Board of 8 people (including Phil and I, who are self employed and independent contractors). These are all people I have hand picked for their skills and life experience. They are: our chairperson, Moeroa Marsters, our secretary Julie, our treasurer Kat, and board members Phil,  Paul, Sally, Jackson (and me). Our patron is Michèle A’Court, and the rest of the Aunties are all of you who give money and stuff to the people who make up our whānau of women.

In September 2016, I started doing this job full time after 3 1/2 years of doing it in conjunction with my paid job teaching, and in May 2018, I started getting paid by the Aunties, and a kind philanthropist. Half my salary is paid by her.  We pay Phil $2000 a month for her time. (She already has a fulltime job, and does this on TOP of it). Both these salaries come out of the people account that generous donors subscribe to specifically for that purpose.

Over 99% of funds raised every year and paid into the general charity account  – around $130,000 last year – are spent directly on the women and organisations I walk alongside. (Our overheads are very low. We pay $2500 for our storage unit every year, $200 for our private bag, and I think $80 a year for the website hosting and email addresses).

 

This is a rundown of our jobs.

Phil coordinates donations – this includes the storage space, liaising with Aunty Mac and our Storage Queens who are two of the women I have worked with mostly closely in the past, and still do – of stuff and furniture, and larger items. She does the whanau grocery shopping (the women send her a list, and she does an online order for them), applies for grants, coordinates with some organisations when needed, organises our Xmas (buying presents for the Te Whānau Rangimarie families, and coordinating Xmas Aunties for our whanau of 40 women), and the women contact her if they need anything in particular.  Her home is also a drop off point for donations.

 

She is an absolute star and I have no idea what we would do without her.

I provide emotional support for our Aunties whānau of 40 women – I refer them to other agencies if needed, liaise with our counsellor Kyrin, go to mediation meetings/parole board hearings/meetings with OT and any other agency where they require moral support and advocacy. This could be disability agencies and mental health or addiction service providers also.  One of our women, Kiri, was a social worker in a past life and I sometimes take her with me to meet new women if I think her skills would be put to good use – we make a great team, her and I.  The women in our Aunties whānau come here to my house for lunch on a six weekly basis and that’s become our bonding and relationship building time, as well as great if we need to make direct contact with agencies, or do what they need to do online.

I do all the social media for the Aunties, and all online fundraising through these channels. I also do all media for the Aunties, currently.

I do paid, and unpaid, public speaking about domestic violence: what it looks like, and what you can do about it. I also talk about how to live in the fullness of your being, and all that that means.

I network, and have working relationships,  with the following organisations:

  • New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective in Auckland
  • Te Whānau Rangimarie
  • Tauranga Women’s Refuge
  • Te Whare Tiaki, Porirua Māori Women’s Refuge
  • Clendon Teen Parenting Unit
  • Auckland Action Against Poverty
  • Oranga Tamariki
  • Family Success Matters
  • Strive
  • Dress For Success Auckland
  • Inner City Women’s Group
  • The Aunties have several lawyers onboard who do soliciting work and barristering as required, and I liaise with them.

I provide peer support and mentorship for several social workers from 3 organisations.

I provide emotional support for around 200 people  a year via email, and through phone calls. These are largely white middle class women who just need somebody to tell their story to, or who need advice on how to get out of an abusive relationship.

I connect with many hundreds of people a year, and the networks are built completely organically. This is how we have always worked. It has to grow slowly and sustainably.  We can only go at the speed of trust. That’s really important.

(There is still some idea that we work with women in refuges. I stopped doing that in September, 2017. .All 300 – 400 women we see in a year are not in refuges. Some of them are leading violence free lives, and some of them aren’t. A couple are in “hiding”, most are not. Some of them have been in women’s refuges, some of them haven’t. They all live in the community – mostly in South Auckland – and they are all people of extraordinary spirit and heart. But they are NOT in women’s refuges.)

The Aunties primary focus is to provide the material needs for the people who use the services of those organisations, and for the women in our whānau. We get our girls their shit. Simple as.

The organisations/people we support are: Te Rōopu O Te Whānau Te Rangimariē O Tamaki Makaūrau; The NZ Prostitute’s Collective;  Care NZ; social workers from Family Start, Strive, and several other community organisations. These agencies access our storage unit and refer clients to me.

You can see our  performance reports,  ending March 2019  here.

We have a very strong kaupapa of giving with love. Meeting needs with aroha is our business. I am insistent on this. If you aren’t about giving with love, and no judgement, then this isn’t the charity for you. This community of donors has been carefully collated over the last 7 years, and I am a bit demanding, because the women we serve deserve the very best at a really vulnerable time of their lives. When people need what you have, I expect that you give without strings attached. You will be thanked, by me (I cry, quite a lot, because people’s kindness is always overwhelming to me) but you will never likely meet the people you are giving to. We are about our whānau, primarily. Their needs come first. This needs to be remembered at all times.

And the women you are giving to feel your love. I assure you of this. When people are given crap, and not what they need, they feel like crap. And when they feel like crap already, I believe that the poor quality of what’s been given to them compounds their pain, and does them more damage. I’ve seen it. And I’ve also seen -see it every day – the restorative and healing power of things that are given with heart, care, and thoughtfulness.

If you think you can provide anything on this list, send Phil an email and take it from there. The process for donations works like this: You contact Phil, she gives you the drop off details – we have 3. My mum, Phil, and Mac . Mac and Phil take your donations to our storage unit. One of the women who’s part of the Aunties whaānau organises the storage quality checking donations,  and putting everything away, and another of the women meets other women in need down there so that they are able to access what we have.

Social workers, Te Whare Marama refuge, and Te Whanau Rangimarie staff go by themselves to get what their clients need.

Once there, they get to pick and choose what they need/want – by and large, this is towels/bedding/clothes for them and their children.  I no longer meet women at the storage unit and spend time with them, D does that bit – referrals are made to me by the women themselves, or their social workers, for emotional support and I contact them, we arrange to meet, and we sit at their kitchen tables, or they come to my house, we share kai, and our stories.

This is the main reason that the Aunties stands out in this field – we cater for women’s specific needs, and they get what they need/want when they need/want it. Including lots of love, if that’s what they’re after. We also operate as a whānau  and a community of support – turning the traditional model of charity as a relationship between donors and beneficiaries on it’s head. We support each other.

Please note: we only operate in Auckland. If you are in Wellington, one of the Aunties moved down there and is co-ordinating donations for Te Whare Tīaki, Porirua Māori Women’s Refuge. This is currently only via Twitter. You can find their account @ponekeaunties. In Christchurch, there are the Christchurch Aunties

Susan Devoy has set up the Tauranga Aunties, they can be found here.

If you live elsewhere in NZ, please contact your local women’s refuge, and ask them what they need. You can find links and contact details here.

This is a grassroots effort to support quite a large number of people, and to meet their needs. I am available for public speaking.

I have spoken to schools, Probus groups, retired folk, a Lion’s Club, the NZ Humanists conference – you can see that talk  here. , and was a panellist at the Ka Tu Maia Young Women’s Leadership Symposium, as well as the Women’s Leadership conference,  and was a guest speaker at the War Room, an event held as part of the Auckland Arts Festival.

I have given keynote speeches at:

Youth Declaration Conference 2019.

Women In Leadership symposium 2019

PRINZ conference 2019

itSMFnz conference 2019

The Teen Parent Unit National Conference 2019

 

I speak to community groups and corporate groups alike.

I was a recipient of a  Women’s Fund awards 2018, was a nominee for NZ Woman Of The Year Awards, New Zealander of The Year, was category winner and supreme winner of the Women Of  Influence Awards 2018 and was a medallist in the Local Hero Of The Year Awards, 2017. I recieved a QSM in the 2019 New Year Honours List.

 

I am regularly asked to speak to relevant groups, and I really enjoy the chance to get our name out there. If you are a smaller or community group, I will come and speak to you for a koha to the Aunties. If you are a corporate, or professional body, my speaking fee is $2000 incl GST.

We thank you for your compassion and care, and your ongoing emotional and practical support of the women that we walk alongside.

 

The Aunties is a registered charitable trust.

Our registration number is: CC54387

#whaeapower

The Aunties public twitter is @aunties_the

OR Jackie can be reached at:

whaeapower@aunties.co.nz

Or come and check out our Facebook page!