This week QCOSS caught up with one of our members, Amanda Bradley from Children by Choice, based in Windsor, Brisbane. This is what she had to say about her organisation, its mission and her work there advocating for women’s rights.
I have always had an interest in inequality and remember clearly asking my dad about injustice and situations that I viewed as ‘unfair’. His response to me was always ‘life’s not fair’. I guess that set me on a career trajectory of helping.
I have been at Children by Choice for just over three years. Children by Choice is an independent Brisbane-based non-profit organisation, committed to providing unbiased information on all unplanned pregnancy options – abortion, adoption and parenting. We have a pro-choice and woman-centred approach. Our vision is for all women to be able to freely make choices about their reproductive and sexual health.
When I was job-seeking, my ideal role was in an organisation with a good values fit. When I left the tiny purple house in Windsor after my interview, I called my husband almost in tears saying ‘I really want to work for them!’.
We provide non-judgemental all-options counselling, information and referrals for Queensland women experiencing unplanned pregnancy, and post-abortion counselling, through our Queensland-wide phone line and in person at our Brisbane office. We also provide sexuality education to young people and professional development training for health and community sector professionals. We work to advance Queensland women's reproductive choices and to improve access to safe and legal abortion.
We are funded by the Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services to provide our counselling and community education services. We rely heavily on our members, supporters, and volunteers to assist us in our non-funded work, and are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission.
We have also been working hard to raise the profile of the intersection between domestic violence and unplanned pregnancy as almost 40% of our work is with women who have identified violence including sexual violence and intimate partner violence.
Last year we were successful in gaining philanthropic funding to work on developing violence screening tools as part of abortion care. We have produced this resource on contraception for women living with violence that we hope the sector will find useful.
As well as violence, our data consistently shows us that the majority of our clients are experiencing financial hardship and are often coming to us for financial support. Last year we provided 266 women with almost $92K in financial support and 91 of those women also chose to take up our offer to include a long acting reversible contraception. Our first look at this year’s data tells us that we have increased our reach to 294 women with over $130K in financial support and 130 of them also chose a long acting reversible contraception.
And, of course, there has been the call to remove abortion from the Queensland Criminal Code where it has remained pretty much unchanged since 1899. In the last twelve months Children by Choice made submissions and appeared before two Parliamentary Committee Hearings supporting legal reform and the decriminalisation of abortion. In June, the issue was referred to the Queensland Law Reform Commission and they have a year to produce a report for the government to consider.
I have worked in public health for over 15 years and before that in community education. I realise that loving your work is a privilege in itself and by all accounts I am incredibly lucky to have found a role that brings me immense job satisfaction.
For the year ahead, we will be continuing to talk violence and unplanned pregnancy. We will be working hard to raise the donations we need to offer direct financial support to women and we hope for a Law Reform Commission report that will recommend the decriminalisation of women and medical providers.