Judy Tells Companionship Story
Judy Lamb, a volunteer with ACRATH in Victoria, is the perfect person to explore and document the impact of ACRATH’s Companionship Program on the organisation’s advocacy work. She has spent almost a decade as a volunteer companion to a family supported by the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project and 15 years ago she helped the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart celebrate their centenary by producing a series of books featuring stories of the congregation’s Sisters.
“I have loved this work and feel privileged to be able to do it. I think my years as a companion and friend to the asylum seeker family has given me an insight into the experiences of ACRATH Companions and how they inform the organisation’s advocacy work. Documenting the stories of the OLSH Sisters also gave me the experience of listening to someone share a very important part of their life,” Judy said.
ACRATH’s 13 trained and supervised volunteer Companions offer support and friendship to 34 trafficked women and their 45 children as they face the long journey of healing.
Judy has begun, through interviews with Companions, documenting what many have suspected for years – that the Companions are an important link between trafficked people and the policy development that comes from advocacy by NGOs, including ACRATH.
Judy’s research will look at four areas, including:
- each Companion’s involvement and experiences in the program and any challenges they face.
- how each Companion sees their work impacting advocacy, lobbying and awareness raising by ACRATH.
Judy has already interviewed several Companions and will also interview some of those who support the Companions, including steering committee members, supervisors and people from key organisations including Anti-Slavery Australia. Judy will also interview ACRATH members involved in advocacy work in order to explore the Companionship-advocacy links. Judy will not be interviewing any trafficked women.
“I am formalising what many in the organisation know, but it’s important to document experiences so that the information can be readily available for advocacy, fund-raising and story telling,” Judy said. “It’s an organic process that might offer new insights as I go along. Some Companions may share ideas about how things could be done differently and I am open to hearing that.”
“For me one of the immediate benefits of the project is acknowledging the work of the Companions even though they do not want any praise for their work. What they do is extraordinary.”
Judy said her initial interviews have already revealed beneficial networking amongst the Companions and other NGOs to ensure the best out come for the trafficked women.
“It is such a privilege to be a companion to someone; to be with them through so many ups and downs and to be able to help in some way,” Judy said.