Banksia Academy a family violence virtual hub launches in Australia

Melanie Greblo, Founder of Banksia Academy

One in four Aussie women has experienced domestic or family violence by a partner with devastating and long-lasting consequences for both survivors and their children. Banksia Academy has launched to revolutionise recovery for women survivors of domestic and family violence, helping them achieve long-term financial independence through training, education, employment pathways, and access to a program of trauma-informed wrap-around support.

What is the purpose behind the Banksia Academy?

The not-for-profit platform opened its virtual doors with the purpose being to break down barriers and lift the collective gaze to a horizon where women survivors are supported into full social and economic participation. Women survivors face multiple barriers to safe, secure and flexible work, including their physical and mental wellbeing and ongoing safety concerns, as well as logistical obstacles like childcare, transportation, and inflexible work environments.

Co-designed by women with lived experience, the free virtual platform – which can be accessed by women across Australia, any time, anywhere – will act as a gateway to sustainable employment opportunities. An initial focus on digital roles that allow for greater flexibility, access to higher pay opportunities, and full immersion into the digital economy, will provide invaluable knowledge and skills to help future-proof the careers of women survivors.

In addition to employment pathways, Banksia Academy’s Hub will also provide personal development and education opportunities, job readiness programs, and wrap-around support including expert-led sessions, 1:1 mentoring programs, and peer-support groups.

Sydney-based Founder Melanie Greblo created Banksia Academy after a personal experience sparked the idea back in 2020. With $170,000 in seed funding from philanthropic organisations including $100,000 from the Vasudhara WildWomen Fund, Ms Greblo is excited to see the powerful impact the platform will have on women across the country.

What does the Banksia Academy offer women survivors?

Banksia Academy’s Hub will provide women survivors access to:

  • Personal development & education opportunities: Banksia Academy has partnered with Ubiquity University to offer a range of over 40 personal development and education courses including Communication Strategies, Personal Productivity, and Presentation Skills.
  • Job Readiness: Banksia Academy has curated a job readiness program tailored to helping women survivors re-enter the workforce. Employment pathways: Banksia Academy has partnered with tech startup Scriibed to offer flexible, digital employment opportunities for women, with more partners to be announced later this year.
  • Wrap-around support: Women will have access to a calendar of weekly programs and events they can choose to attend including journaling sessions and meditations, as well as expert-led sessions by family lawyers, financial advisors, child psychologists etc.
  • Mentoring: 1:1 mentoring programs will be available, connecting survivors to trauma-informed support to help them reach their study and career goals.
  • Peer-group support: Women will have access to virtual peer-support groups to help stay connected, no matter where they live in Australia.
  • Additional support referrals: Banksia Academy will connect women with crisis services, and other relevant support services, to help support them in all facets of their recovery.

What were the executives’ thoughts on the hub?

Tara Nelson Carnegie, Founder and Executive Chair of Vasudhara WildWomen Fund said, “I am delighted that the Vasudhara WildWomen Fund is able to invest in an innovative platform giving survivors a new chance to transform their lives. For many of these women, a life on the poverty line is the only option they can see and this is simply unacceptable in 2022.”

“Having worked with Melanie on a number of projects over the past decade, I know that if anyone can shift the dial on this issue, it’s her. I am thrilled that the VWWF has the honour of supporting a woman daring to dream of an over the horizon solution to this issue.”

“I know first-hand the challenges women survivors can face. Research suggests that yearly in Australia, over 1 million women have or will experience violence, emotional abuse and stalking, with 90% of these women also experiencing financial abuse,” said Greblo.

“For women wanting to leave abusive relationships, their choice is often either violence or poverty, and many women return to abusive relationships for primarily financial reasons – it’s just not good enough. Banksia Academy is here to help break the cycle and support the long-term financial independence of women survivors,” Greblo further commented.

“Our mission is to lift the gaze of the community for women survivors. For lasting social change, we need to look beyond low- skilled work and a life on the poverty line, and focus on supporting women into higher-skilled job opportunities. The flow-on positive impacts for women, their children and generations to come, is incomparable to the status quo.”

Scriibed, a social impact business also founded by Greblo, is Banksia Academy’s first employment partner and exclusively hires women with a lived experience of family or domestic violence to service its customers in the Human Resource profession.

Scriibed employee Jodie Smith, commented, “Having the opportunity to up-skill into a digital workforce that allows flexibility and offers me the opportunity for professional growth in a meaningful industry has been transformative for me. The Banksia Academy will have a life long positive social impact on women survivors looking for a career pathway, having been carefully tailored by those who have experienced the challenges first hand.”

“It will inspire professionals to make a contribution through its program and facilitate support, training and experience that is necessary to assist vulnerable women into promising careers.”

What is the domestic violence landscape in Australia?

Domestic violence is the single biggest cause of homelessness in Australia. One in four women has experienced domestic or family violence by an intimate partner. 90% of these women also experience financial abuse. The cost to our economy stands at $22bn per year.

Over 600,000 Australians were victims of financial abuse in 2020 alone – a problem that costs victims and the economy more than $11 billion a year. 60% of the single mother population in Australia are victims of domestic and family abuse. Intimate partner violence causes more illness, disability and deaths than any other risk factor for women aged 25-44.

If no further action is taken to prevent violence against women, PwC estimates that costs will accumulate to $323.4 billion over a thirty-year period from 2014‑15 to 2044‑45. Banksia Academy opened to women survivors on October 10th 2022 through the website.

Businesses that would like to become employment partners and donors interested in backing this incredible first-of-its-kind platform are encouraged to get in touch via the website.