Most of us buy nappies without much thought – they are part of our weekly grocery habits, which along with the milk and bread, get shoved into our trolley as we race around the supermarket. For women fleeing domestic violence situations though, nappies are a bleak reminder of a normality they don’t have. Zoe Arnold finds out more.
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week women walk through the doors of McAuley House in Melbourne. They don’t make the decision to go there lightly – they are often fleeing hideous, brutal situations where their lives are literally at risk. The women often bring their children too, with a quarter of all children who come to the crisis centre aged just two or younger."Women come through our doors who are pregnant, or with newborn babies – one women left the hospital where she delivered her baby, knowing she wasn’t safe at home, and came straight to us," CEO of McAuley Community Services, Jocelyn Bignold, says."In the past four months alone we have had 11 pregnant women come to the centre – most come with nothing, or just a small overnight bag," she explains.These women stay in McAuley House for an average of a week, before being resettled in safe houses – away from their violent partners – as they start to rebuild their broken lives."Women talk about wanting to feel safe, about regaining hope, as they grieve their relationship and the end their family life," Ms Bignold explains.
"Giving these women nappies is a simple but profound act that helps them adjust to their new reality."
Non-for-profit The Nappy Collective is the organisation supplying most of these nappies. Founded by a group of mothers last year, the group collects nappies from families who no longer need them – distributing them to needy and vulnerable women across Australia.
"We have collected more than 28,000 nappies so far, and passed them on to women and children who simply can't afford to purchase their own," explains Moran Dvir from the Nappy Collective. "A couple of leftover nappies may not seem like much to you or me, but when we add all those nappies together, it makes a serious impact."McAuley House is one recipient of the nappies collected, CEO Jocelyn Bignold detailing the difference they make to their vulnerable women."Nappies are an essential item, but expensive. Most of our women come from fraught financial backgrounds – meaning they are not able to buy nappies in bulk – but are forced to buy smaller packets wherever they can, while they're on the run," she says."Having a ready supply of nappies in a range of sizes relieves the financial burden on us as an organisation, and leaves our mothers and babies feeling less anxious.
"Mums are happy because they have one less thing to worry about, and our babies are happier because they are clean and dry. This simple act of giving makes a world of difference to people who need them most."The Nappy Collective is running a nappy drive this week, across Australia. To donate your leftover nappies, or to find out more, visit their website.