25 November 2022

Funding secured for new crisis accommodation for Queanbeyan's victim survivors fleeing family violence

| Claire Fenwicke
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The concept design for The Orchard in Orange, which is the inspiration for new crisis accommodation in Queanbeyan. Photo: Housing Plus.

It’s been confirmed Queanbeyan will soon have a new model of crisis accommodation, as one of 20 regional NSW towns which has secured State Government funding.

The ‘Core and Cluster’ refuge will house women and children fleeing domestic and family violence in the Queanbeyan-Palerang region.

Janette Dale is the CEO of a local domestic and family violence service, and said she was excited to offer additional emergency and safe accommodation to the region’s women and children.

“Women and children can start working on their independence straight away as they will be in their own accommodation which also supports them to stay together,” she said.

While Queanbeyan has an existing six-bedroom communal refuge, demand for the service outstrips supply and it isn’t entirely appropriate for people with children.

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The Core and Cluster complex will include four one-bedroom self-contained units, one studio unit and one two-bedroom self-contained unit, along with communal spaces and consulting rooms.

“This model means we can allow families to stay together while still having the support of people in the same situation, they can build friendships and social supports,” Ms Dale said.

“There’s a real sense of ‘wraparound’ service, as the units will be located on the same footprint where other services can come in, with spaces for counselling and interviews with police, as well as AVL options for women to attend court.

“There’s also a playground on-site which means we can provide child support if mum needs to attend something not appropriate for her children.”

A culturally-appropriate meeting place will also be included so Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can have family visit in a safe space.

Ms Dale said this would relieve pressure on their current service and open it up to assist other people seeking help.

“Usually single women miss out because there isn’t enough space, and women with children are prioritised for shelter,” she said.

Crunching the numbers, Molonglo Support Services has experienced an 82 per cent increase in clients accessing the service compared to this time last year, and referrals from police have increased by 15 per cent over the same time.

Ms Dale said while this could be reflective of more people reaching out for help and knowing about the service, this new refuge offered a chance to help people not continue to be in the cycle of domestic or family violence.

“The more services we have, the less likely they are to go back and put themselves and their children at risk,” she said.

“The main reason people don’t leave is they don’t want to go into homelessness, and they may not have the support or money for that not to happen.

“This does help, anything is better than nothing.”

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The NSW Government announced $484.3 million for 39 new women’s refuges across the state in October 2021 – 20 in regional areas.

Monaro MP Nichole Overall was pleased funding had been secured for the area.

“These homes provide greater capacity in Monaro for safe, private and independent living spaces for victim survivors and their children,” she said.

“Women and children deserve to be safe from harm when fleeing violent situations.”

Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said the Core and Cluster refuges were expected to support an extra 2900 women and children each year.

Funding has also been secured for a six-dwelling refuge in the Eurobodalla Shire, to be delivered by SEARMS Community Housing Aboriginal Corporation.

While timeframes for each refuge are yet to be finalised, it’s expected all 39 across the state will be operational by mid-2025.

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