Education, Self-Worth and Hope
Tanya Langford, Winner, United Nations Day 2022 in the category of Gender Equality, UNAAWA.
By Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation
PERTH, Western Australia (WA) - Investing in education for oneself offers multiple perspectives to make better decisions in one’s life. In 2009, at the age of 40, Tanya Langford enrolled at Edith Cowan University. She was a mature age and single mother, and felt the need to understand how she could help women in compromised backgrounds and vulnerable financial positions.
Credit : Dr Renée Ralph
Initially, Tanya enrolled in Social Work but later she changed it to the Bachelor of Social Sciences. In 2012, she graduated with the Bachelor of Social Sciences, with a major in Welfare and Community Services.
Her main goal was to work in the arena of gender based violence and to offer support to vulnerable women who have experienced all types of abuse, including childhood trauma and sexual assault.
Tanya is a survivor of the cyclical violence that started in her childhood. Her encounters at home led her to two abusive marriages and she was thrusted and exposed to Australian’s legal system.
Tanya learnt how to apply for violent restraining orders, reached out and pleaded for help from the police and dealt with the child custody battles in the Family Court. During these dark times, Tanya and her family depended on child support and welfare reliance.
Credit : Dr Renée Ralph
Tanya’s tenacity in life and believe in her own self-worth, her believe in helping other women felt that her study, her accomplished degree will prepare her to make a difference in supporting vulnerable women facing domestic violence and sexual assault.
She realized that her education will support women who came from backgrounds that disadvantaged women – the issue of gender inequality and compromised position and women’s rights.
Tanya said: “I spent 7 years as a ‘Family Support Officer’ at Peel Youth Services where I specialized in the area of ‘Youth Violence in the Home’.
I did a Research Paper “Youth in the Peel Region who are Violent in the Home, and/or Severely Disengaged.”
At this time, Tanya received the ‘City of Mandurah – Perth Convention Bureau Aspire Scholarship’ which allowed her to attend and present at a two day Domestic Violence Conferences in Australia.
She shared: “Whilst the role at Peel Youth Services provided incredible experience, I was very aware of the need to provide greater support to assist women’s growth and empowerment.”
In 2018, Tanya met the New Zealand Team ‘Safe Man Safe Family’ and Irene Lydon who was their Perth visit Co-Ordinator.
Tanya said: “Irene is a Maori woman and a Social Worker with the Department of Child Protection (DCP). We realized very soon we shared the passion “to create a Holistic organization where women could access a combination of counselling, therapies, case management, advocacy, welfare and more – to help them heal their trauma and take back their personal power”.
Tanya and Irene made the decision to create “Safe Woman Safe Family W.A.” as a Not for Profit Charity Organization.
Both women approached the Shire of Murray in Pinjarra and were provided a house to run and organize the ‘Safe Woman Safe Family.” She said: “We were fortunate enough to commence the works required to transform it.”
Tanya transitioned out of her role at Peel Youth Services, recognizing the need for a ‘Full-Time’ Co-Ordinator for the renovation, the work being done, plus managing and assembling the team of Volunteers and the many varied aspects involved in creating a ‘Women’s Centre’.
It was a brave initiative as “this meant losing my full-time wage and becoming a Full-Time Volunteer until the organization could gain sponsorship or significant funding to pay a wage,” says Tanya.
Tanya believe in hope and her passion for helping women who were in despair.
On 23 April 2019, they organised an ‘Opening Event’ of the ‘Safe Woman Safe Family Murray Centre’.
During this time, Tanya had collated a team of 20 women willing to help at the Centre, she directed this Centre for the next 3 years, operating it as a Drop-In Centre open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 4.00pm providing a “holistic hub model” of wrap around supports (advocacy and welfare assistance), Counselling, Therapies (ie: Yoga, Meditation, Art, Kinesiology, Massage) and the unique “15 Week Trauma Recovery and Empowerment-Program’.
Everything on offer was a daily gold-coin donation to ensure ‘cost’ was not a barrier for any woman to access the amazing services and therapies. The Centre also offered TAFE and University students opportunities for placement and to experience what other women go through daily.
The ‘Safe Woman Safe Family 15 Week / 10 Module Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Program’
For women who had been impacted by family and domestic violence (FDV) and all forms of abuse related trauma. Tanya shared: “Irene and I designed the concept. I developed it to entirety and over the next 3 years, ran 6 rounds which changed the lives of approximately 100 women who took part- I received funding from Alcoa of Australia to run.”
The program had a Psycho-Educational approach and incorporated: understanding trauma, exploring ‘ACES’, ‘Attachment’, ‘Family Patterns’- to allow women to gain a greater understanding of aspects of their childhood in relation to their lives.
It also taught: understanding aspects of the ‘Domestic Violence Wheel’, Power and Control, Patriarchy and Social constraints of Gender Inequality; Setting Boundaries; understanding Red Flags; Healthy versus Unhealthy Relationship; Assertive Communication; Dispute Resolution; Holistic Well-being and Self Care; with a constant focus on raising Self-Esteem and building community connections.
In 2020 ,an independent Evaluation Report called: “Breaking The Cycle of Violence” was conducted which provides exemplary evidence that every woman who completed the program – gained positive benefits in every area of their lives.
Many had continued on their path of learning and enrolled in study, volunteering or working. All of them showed significant improvement in their mental health, capacity to communicate effectively, enhanced parenting capacity and most importantly free from the ‘cycle of violence’.
Tanya says:“I created another program called "Keeping Us Safe" – an ‘Early Intervention – Gender based violence and sexual assault prevention program’ we ran in the local Pinjarra High School – which was funded by WA Police- approximately 300 teen girls took part and the outcomes were amazing. I also ran similar for Women which I combined with a Karate instructor teaching ‘Empowerment Self- Defence.”
By the end of 2021, the Safe Woman Safe Family (SWSF) Centre assisted over 250 women and made enormous impacts in creating awareness in the community and broader afield through its Social Media campaign. The issues of Gender Based Violence and promoting the need to create safer community for girls and women.
However, as the SWSF Centre still had received no financial support - and Tanya was working predominantly as a Volunteer Center manager, the sad decision was made to close the Center and wind-down the charity.
In 2021, Tanya created 2 new initiatives – the launching of ‘Consultancy Business’ – “I Am Woman Empowerment Programs’ which offers ‘Empowerment Life Coaching’ plus a range of supports and programs for women. [www.iamwomanempowerment.com]
In addition, many of the women who were in the SWSF Team along with Tanya have created a community initiative “HEARTSPACE Women’s Support Group” – that provides a safe space for women to meet every week at the ‘Pinjarra Community Garden’. Women have access to these support groups, therapies, group activities and self-care for just a ‘gold coin donation’.
Almost 150 women have connected already this year and the group is fulfilling its mission and vision of overcoming issues of ‘Social Isolation’ as well as connecting women with trauma to affordable support, Self- Care Activities and Healing Therapies.
Tanya remains committed to continuing her personal mission of:
supporting and empowering women to overcome the hardships that are created in their lives due to gender based violence and gender inequality
enhancing women’s rights and encourage their opportunities for growth and leadership
Promoting acceptance of all forms of diversity whilst breaking down barriers for equity to resources
Opportunities and a good healthy life.
2022 - Tanya Langford is the winner for the United Nations Day Award, in the category of Gender Equality, United Nations Association of Australia based in WA (UNAAWA).
2020 – Tanya was awarded ‘The Shire of Murray Australia Day Community Citizen of the Year Award’.
Tanya continues to lead a life of supporting, nurturing, striving and helping women.
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