Story By: LAURA NELSON, Gold Coast Sun
LOCAL women and children escaping domestic abuse can now find temporary accommodation in the community in the first scheme of its kind in Australia.
A web-based charity, Safe Haven Community, is offering to match Gold Coasters with other locals who can provide safe, temporary accommodation.
“We launched four weeks ago with a strong push in to Brisbane, Logan and the Gold Coast,” executive director Paul Ferry said.
“The focus on domestic abuse has led to a critical shortage of accommodation in shelters and refuges, especially for those not categorised as high risk,” he said.
“We want people in the community to open up their homes to those who find themselves in abusive relationships before those relationships turn violent.
“If we can provide them with a safe, secure place to go in a supportive environment, even just for a few days, we are confident we can help break the cycle,” he said.
“Most of us would offer a spare room to a daughter, sister, cousin or friend if they were in this situation. Unfortunately, not everybody has this support base and they need help from the community to escape.”
Mr Ferry stressed the new service was early stage intervention before a situation escalated to domestic violence.
“There are no support services for these people. We need to help those who are not yet in crisis,” he said. “We are helping people who have not been hospitalised and they have not yet been to the police to take out an Apprehended Violence Order.
“However, they are in long-term abusive relationships, which they want to get out of.”
Mr Ferry said when a member of the community applied to become an accommodation provider, he or she would be screened through a police check and the person would have to provide 100 points of identity.
“After that, there will be a conversation and an induction process. Where possible, we will visit the accommodation,” he said
Mr Ferry said temporary accommodation was in crisis.
“We simply don’t have enough housing and women have to make the devastating choice of staying in an abusive relationship or going homeless,” he warned.
He said Safe Haven Community was not just about them and their children out of a situation before it turned violent.
“We want to help women transition from shelters back into the community, thereby making more room for those who are in violent situations,” Mr Ferry said. “We also cater for men who find themselves in abusive relationships and have no other means of escape.”
“We provide case managers and full support to all guests and accommodation providers in the Safe Haven Community.”
For the past two years, the program has been totally self-funded by its founder Denise Hunter.
“We now need an injection of funds and have started a crowd funding campaign to keep this vital service running into the future,” Mr Ferry said.
“While we need offers of accommodation urgently, without funding we won’t be able to continue this vital work.”
To donate, register your home or to get help, visit safehavencommunity.com.au.
For assistance in finding or registering a room,
call 18 000 HAVEN (1800 042 836)
Australia has a critical shortage of suitable and available accommodation for people at risk of domestic abuse or homelessness…
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