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Mudgin-Gal: A Place of Refuge for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women in Metro Sydney

IndigenousX recently spoke to CEO Ashlee Donohue, a proud born and bred Dunghutti Woman from Kempsey about Mudgin-Gal, the only Aboriginal Women’s Service in Sydney for assisting and advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children who have or are currently experiencing Domestic and Family Violence. 

IndigenousX recently spoke to CEO Ashlee Donohue, a proud born and bred Dunghutti Woman from Kempsey about Mudgin-Gal, the only Aboriginal Women’s Service in Sydney for assisting and advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children who have or are currently experiencing Domestic and Family Violence. 

Ashlee provided insight into the services offered by Mudgin-Gal to assist and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and how she came to be the centre’s current CEO through her own lived experience with Domestic Violence. 

The Dunghutti woman started as the centre’s bookkeeper, then became the Domestic Violence educator a few years after she had done much-needed healing and gained numerous qualifications under her belt. “I was in a domestic violence relationship myself. During school at night when I was pregnant with my daughter, I went and studied to become a bookkeeper at Tafe. When I came to Sydney at 28, I saw there was a job for a bookkeeper at Mudgin-Gal, so I went for the job. I always say that if Mudgin-Gal had not found me, I do not know where I might have ended up. It opened my eyes to what Domestic Violence was. It was a pivotal place that gave me my voice. The voice that I use now” said Ashlee. 

Later on, Ashlee was asked to come back and be the administrator at Mudgin-Gal to help get the centre up and going.  Now back at the organisation in her third year she is the current CEO of Mudgin-Gal. 

“My thing is you don’t do it for the money. If I did I would be the most underpaid CEO in Australia. The lowest-paid CEO in Australia ” Ashlee laughingly jokes.  I do the work I do because I’ve heard so many young women and old women talk about things that I feel and felt. I just feel that it’s just so important for us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait women for us to take a stance against violence. As it’s been perpetrated against us since colonisation”. 

Mudgin-Gal is 100% run by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in metropolitan Sydney and has been operating for the better part of 29 years. All of the centre’s board are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women, their clients are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and the staff are all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women. 

When asked if women required a referral to access the services offered by the centre Ashlee said “we don’t have a criteria, any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman that walks through our door, we will service and advocate to the best of our capacity, and we do not refer to any other organisation unless we know for a fact that they have the capacity and the will and drive to help our women”. 

The centre offers two main services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. This is the thousand-day program and the Drop-in Centre. The Drop-in Centre operates weekdays from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM and this is so that women “ can come in with their bubs, they can sit in there, they can have a cuppa and a yarn, they can join one of our workshops. They can go through our clothing pool, they can come and have a shower, they can come in and do their washing.  This is how this organisation has survived for so long, we don’t do things the white way, we do things our way” said Ashlee. 

“The thousand-day program is a program based on preventing mums from having their babies removed at birth. Those are women who have had birth alerts. They may be using drugs or experiencing domestic violence or in situations where they have a birth alert on their unborn child. If expecting mum engage with our service through the 1000 day program, it strengthens their case and removes that reality of having their child removed because of those birth alerts”. 

Mudgin-Gal also has an in-house Family Support worker that works with all of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families who access the service, a domestic violence worker who works with supporting women who are going through or have previously experienced domestic violence. The service is open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who reside in Metropolitan Sydney, as Ashlee put it simply “You don’t necessarily have to be going through anything to come into our centre to attend our workshops and use the drop-in-centre”. 

 

How you can support

If you would like to support Mudgin-Gal and the work they do in advocating for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait women and children who access the centre’s service, you can make a direct cash donation on their website, all donations go straight into their outsource account, as they are a non-for-profit no money comes through the service. 

Volunteers are also welcomed by Ashlee and the other staff. If you have time to spare you may wish to volunteer your time and have skills such as e.g. submission writing or report writing. You can do so by contacting Ashlee via email and making an appointment, to discuss your skills and how they can be best utilised to assist Mudgin-Gal. 

As it is the season of giving, if you would like to make a physical Christmas donation to the many women and children who access the service, Ashlee advised IndigenousX that “we cannot accept anything that is not brand new due to Covid-19 regulations. If you would like to purchase Christmas toys or want to put together a hamper for our mums and kids, then we are asking for items for children aged 0 – 16 years of age”.

Further information about the services offered at the centre, operating hours and how to get in touch with Ashlee and staff at Mudgin-Gal can be accessed on their website www.mudgin-gal.org.au, alternatively, the centre can be reached via phone at (02) 9698 1173 or by dropping into the centre located at 233 Abercrombie St, Darlington, NSW 2008. 

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