In the lead-up to International Women’s Day (March 8) we’re giving the floor to three female leaders so they can open up about their passions, their motivation and their ongoing work to support women facing the crises that lead to abortion vulnerability. Here, Eva’s Place Executive Officer and founder Juliet Ballinger bares her heart for women.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is, “An equal world is an enabled world”. I believe that family-friendly policies in government and business together with favourable community attitudes and actions towards women and babies would see a world which is equal and enabling for women in challenging pregnancy situations.
I was working for Emily’s Voice when I became aware of the reasons why women found themselves in such difficult situations, and why pregnancy decisions are so difficult. At the core was the international research that 70% of post-abortive women would not have had an abortion if they had been offered some support.
That was extremely motivating for me, and led me to explore what support means and how it could be offered in our local area. I found that the more I learnt, the more compassion was awoken in me. As I shared this desire to offer a nurturing place for women who lacked support, others readily caught the vision and we worked together to establish Eva’s Place.
Eva’s Place is a safe place where women in challenging pregnancy circumstances can come to discuss their pregnancy options. We offer holistic support and wrap around case management, so that the support meets their needs. There is counselling for personal and relationship issues and pregnancy loss, as well as mentoring throughout pregnancy and into parenthood.
We have a weekly support group that provides an opportunity for young women to make new friends with others who are at the same stage in life. It’s an informal and relaxed place where they can talk about their pregnancy or motherhood.
There is a Baby Goods program too. As people engage in the Eva’s Place programs they can earn Eva’s Place dollars so they can be equipped with baby items like cots, clothes, nappies and much more, which eases the financial burden that many feel as they contemplate having a child. As an example, we came in contact with a young woman who had stopped attending school during her pregnancy, so we agreed with her that she could earn Eva’s Place dollars by attending school, as well as by coming to Eva’s Place! That’s been very motivational for her and she’s been able to gather what she needs for her coming baby and continue her studies.
Our services are so unique. There is no other agency in the Toowoomba or Darling Downs area that offers that very specific support that young women need. As well as what we do in house at Eva’s Place, we refer on to specialist services for drug and alcohol issues, domestic violence and housing for accommodation needs.
What we receive in feedback is that our clients feel very accepted, there’s no judgement, the Eva’s Place team are very easy to talk to and the young women can be free to be themselves.
Eva’s Place has operated since September 2013, and demand has increased every year.
How to help
If you want to do something that’s truly empowering for women this International Women’s Day, I’d encourage you to contact your nearest pregnancy support centre. You might be surprised with what opportunities there are.
Alternatively, befriending a young woman on her pregnancy or mothering journey can make the world of difference to her and her baby.
Eva’s Place is based in Queensland with centres in Toowoomba and Dalby, and a third will open this year in Roma.