A gift of hope for women in family violence crisis

Melbourne friends on track to collect their 15,000th gift box to women in family violence crisis accommodation.

Selina Ife, New Day Box

A month before Christmas in 2012 Cyan Ta’eed read about a Canadian charity that organised gifts for women in family violence crisis accommodation over the Christmas period. At the time she didn’t realise that article, and the idea that stemmed from it, would impact more than 10,000 women fleeing family violence over the next four years.

A search for a Melbourne-based equivalent charity came up with nothing. So, after chatting with a few colleagues she sat near, Cyan and a small team launched New Day Box.

Cyan had already co-founded Envato, one of the most successful tech companies in Australia, and was excited about exploring a new side venture, despite being eight months pregnant and launching with a team with no experience in the not-for-profit sector. Suffice to say, New Day Box was a learning experience.

The early days of the initiative involved talking to family violence case workers all over Victoria. One of them was so moved to hear about what the team were planning she burst into tears. Many of the women who flee family violence leave with nothing but the clothes on their back. Those with children try to make Christmas as special for their kids as possible. There are countless services that organise gift drives for children, but the women themselves go without.

A dedicated team at Safe Steps family violence response service agreed to distribute New Day Boxes to crisis accommodation centres all over Victoria. They estimated 500 boxes would cover the festive season, a time that unfortunately sees a spike in family violence crisis.

Family violence statistics in Australia are overwhelming. One in three Australian women have experienced violence from a current or former partner in their lifetime and in 2016 on average more than one woman a week lost her life due to family violence. Last financial year Safe Steps provided over 29,000 emergency accommodation beds for women and children escaping family violence. (Ref: Safe Steps)

The team at New Day Box have always focussed on gifts, rather than necessities. Items like a nice hand cream, mascara or nail polish. Anything that might provide a little bit of luxury for someone who really needs it. A New Day Box is more than just material items – it’s a gift of hope. It’s a way to tell a women in family violence crisis accommodation that someone in the community is thinking of them and wishes them well.

Now in its fifth year, the New Day Box team have streamlined processes and have a thousands-strong community who give a gift of hope each year. So much so that the boxes exceed how many are required for the Christmas period, and are distributed all over Victoria well into the new year.

This year the team have partnered with St Kilda Mums, who have generously offered their warehouse for collection and will assist with distribution. That means in addition to women in family violence crisis, New Day Boxes donated to St Kilda Mums may also go to female refugees and asylum seekers, those experiencing homelessness, disabilities, mental illness, addiction and other issues. Unfortunately family violence features in many of these women’s history even if it is not the reason they currently need assistance.

Miss Collective have been a great support to New Day Box, sharing the message with their community and hosting our inaugural ‘packing party’ in Melbourne. While its reason for being is inherently sombre, the New Day Box team focus on making a positive contribution to women who are in need of having their day brightened.

This year the team hope to collect their 15,000th New Day Box. If you would like to help you can find out more information at newdaybox.org.