Got Your Back Sista marks their fifth year in operation

Got Your Back Sista marks their fifth year in operation

Local domestic violence support charity, Got Your Back Sista, is commemorating five years of operation this month.

Founder and CEO, Melissa Histon said the tremendous community support in addition to what is a deeply disturbing community need, had contributed to the growth of the charity in such a short time.

Melissa said she started Got Your Back Sista as the charitable arm of the Sista Code movement – to tackle one of the important issues identified by its members.

From humble beginnings – Melissa ran the charity from her home for the first year – and it has now grown to support more than 500 women.

“Our vision is to see women and their children happy, thriving and living independently after escaping the trauma of domestic violence,” Melissa said.

“We give a hand up for them to begin again and live independently.”

The first person the charity helped was an Indigenous woman with a two-year-old daughter who had been living in someone’s garage after fleeing her violent partner.

The woman managed to find her own house to rent, so Melissa organised furniture, bedding and utensils to cook with.

“When women and children flee domestic violence, they often leave with just the clothes on their back and a few personal items.”

The support provided by the charity has broadened from helping to set up a safe home to programs that empower and support the health and wellbeing of domestic violence survivors.

“With the help of a new in-house case worker, we support women to rebuild their lives – by improving their confidence, self-esteem, life skills and employment pathways.”

The support includes workshops and a support group, self-defence classes, the Love Bites program, cooking and nutrition classes, as well as a Certificate ll in Retail Skills and a Computer and Admin skills course.

Educating and engaging the community to spread the message that domestic violence is never OK is another aspect of the charity’s work.

Got Your Back Sista’s first community campaign at Hunter Stadium in 2016 attracted 500 people. Since then, it has partnered with the Newcastle Knights, City of Newcastle, nib health funds, and many corporate and sporting organisations including the Hamilton Hawks and New Lambton Eagles to run annual community campaigns. A new video documentary is in production to support its awareness goals.

“The pandemic has seen reports of increased domestic violence, so it is more important than ever that we work to support women while working towards the ultimate end goal,” Melissa said.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world free of violence?”

Melissa said she is grateful for the tremendous support from local people and organisations.

She said voluntary Board members Belinda Smith (Chair), Alexandria Joy and Chad Watson do much behind the scenes for the charity, as did the late Meg Purser.

 IMAGE | Got Your Back Sista Community Campaign at Hunter Stadium.

Got Your Back Sista

As the registered charitable arm of The Sista Code movement, Got Your Back Sista’s vision is to see women and their children happy, thriving and living independently after escaping the trauma of domestic violence.

As such, Got Your Back Sista offers benevolent relief and support to women and children escaping domestic violence and are at risk of living below the poverty line. They give a hand up for them to begin again and live independently.

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