Jenny Gurry, the founder and CEO of Diamond Women, says that what makes her heart sing is when a vulnerable woman or couple who entered her offices anxious over an unexpected pregnancy start to get excited when they discover the remarkable support on offer.
“They come in facing what feels like overwhelming and insurmountable decisions about the nitty gritty of choosing to have this baby now, and the factors around that seem so pressing,” Jenny said.
“But then when they find that there is hope and see a pathway through it, and their emotions catch up with that decision and they become excited, that is so good.”
Jenny recently gave The Catholic Weekly a tour of the new, expanded Castle Hill offices of the registered charity which provides crisis pregnancy and post-abortion counselling, parenting and mentoring programs, and other support.
The service her team provides employs professional counsellors and case workers who are complemented by more than 20 volunteer mentors, plus regular donors as part of an ongoing parenting ‘village’ to address immediate and longer term needs.
“It’s not easy helping a woman who is facing with difficulty an unplanned pregnancy, but it is ‘doable’,” Jenny explained.
“Our job is to help her to achieve a strong sense of identity, her innate value and her purpose.”
“What is more challenging is getting her whole life transformed so that her family is then transformed. Life transformation and thereby breaking the generational poverty cycle is what we’re most passionate about.
“Without proper support then we’ve just created another single mum who’s got a lot her plate and is struggling.”
That support may take the form of assisting a woman to begin training or re-training to enter the workforce, or opportunities to develop the confidence to engage and build relationships in a community through playgroups or a church or other social spaces.
“Our job is to help her to achieve a strong sense of identity, her innate value and her purpose. That then translates into how she parents and into the course of her life which the child watches and then that changes the child’s life for the future.”
Also unique to Diamond Women is the offering of up to 12 months free post-abortion counselling, which Jenny says takes 40 per cent of the service’s time.
“These are not our clients who come with crisis pregnancies, but people who are just reaching out because their inner world is broken from an abortion – whether it was two days or 60 years ago,” Jenny explains.
“And then we get women who just need support who have already had their baby but for example are a refugee or who came here on a marriage visa and have been abandoned, their dowry and passport taken, are pregnant and have no access to help.”
Asked whether, over 16 years of operation, any of the clients say that their crisis pregnancy turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to them, Jenny replies “all of them”, rattling off success stories before recalling one with serious and complex prior issues.
Diamond Women began as a registered not for profit organisation, but this year was listed as a company limited by guarantee so that it can be expanded to operate nationally.
“It’s still a registered charity, but operating nationally is the goal,” says Jenny.
“My ultimate hope is that when a woman is faced with an unplanned pregnancy she has two options, she can go to an abortion clinic or she can come to a Diamond Woman Support centre and get even more options.
“Planned Parenthood say that informed consent is the bedrock of good health care, which is so ironic because they don’t actually offer all the information a woman needs to make her decision.”
“We’re in an unusual time in history where you have a difference of opinion and therefore you’re ‘cancelled.’ We haven’t faced a lot of that here, thank God. Maybe because we offer that full support.”
While face-to-face counselling is preferred, the service also provides online counselling all over Australia.
But the one big frustration is that as a provider of free services, funded 90 per cent by donations, it can’t compete with the online advertising purchasing power of Marie Stopes, the country’s largest private surgical and medical abortion provider.
“They have incredible financial resources to get before vulnerable women,” Jenny says.
But at least they are safe from the kinds of attacks wrought on the offices of some of her counterparts in the US, particularly after the reversal of Roe V Wade.
“We’re in an unusual time in history where you have a difference of opinion and therefore you’re ‘cancelled.’ We haven’t faced a lot of that here, thank God. Maybe because we offer that full support. Still, we can’t please everyone. We’re not an activist organisation, we’re an advocacy service. We’re not pro-life enough for some and we’re too Christian for others. Look I can’t win, so I’m just going to keep on keeping on.”