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News & Events
Child minders needed for crucial court service
March 4, 2021
Emerge is on the lookout for a court worker and volunteers to support its work at the Moorabbin Magistrates Court.
The service is about to return after a year’s hiatus due to lockdowns, and Emerge is anticipating a huge demand from mothers and their children attending the court. Before lockdown, the service ran on Tuesdays and it is now likely that it will run twice a week.
Julie, a qualified child care worker for over thirty years, leads the service for Emerge. She is looking forward to returning to the courts and to what she says is a purposeful job with more highs than lows.
“There is no such thing as a typical day – some days you can have four children under the age of three to looking after teenagers and listening to their experiences,” Julie said.
She is currently looking for a co-worker and two volunteers to join her.
“What we are looking for is women who have childcare experience, have compassion, and who can follow privacy rules and orders from the Department of Justice staff,” Julie said.
“It would be beneficial if they have had direct experience working with children.”
Her day begins at the court at 9.30am and, depending on clients, can end an hour later or at 6pm. She works alongside a volunteer assisting mothers and playing with children while the mother is in court.
Julie started working at the courts in February 2019. The service focuses on support to mothers who need to finalise legal matters but have nowhere to leave their children. The service operates from the court’s safe room where there is a cupboard stacked with farmyard sets, crayons and paper, cars, jigsaws, soft toys and blankets to cuddle.
The service is supported by the Victoria Police and the Magistrates’ Court.
Among her many highlights came during the week before the service closed.
“A mother and her two children arrived subdued and frightened. We played cards and other games and as the morning progressed there was laughter. At one stage the mother turned to me and said, ‘I had totally forgotten why we are here’. That to me was the reason why we are there,” Julie said.
Sadly, there have been lowlights as well.
“I am constantly reminded of watching a mother cowering and crying in the corner and her little boy standing looking at her not knowing what to do. I gave the mother a box of tissues, glass of water and gave the boy a couple of cars. Things calmed down after a bit, unfortunately this was not the first or last time I encountered this woman and child. The memory haunts me.”
The need for the court support service was identified during consultations between Emerge, Impact and the Bayside Peninsula Family Violence Partnership. Currently women attending court with young children are often unable to finalise intervention orders and other matters due to lack of childcare on the hearing date.
According to Julie, the service has already paid dividends,
“The mums who have used the service are reassured when they realise that we are qualified and are also mums. They walk through the door, and their confidence immediately grows knowing that whilst they are dealing with legal issues they do not need to worry about their children,” Julie said.
For more information about volunteering or the Co-Worker position, please contact: