A campaign to bring back a community-based specialist domestic violence refuge, run by women for women, in Taree, is underway.
Leonie McGuire is leading the fight and has called a meeting at Club Taree on Thursday, June 8 with the aim of forming a steering committee of women to champion the cause.
Speakers will include principal of the Feminist Legal Clinic in Sydney Anna Kerr as well as Leonie, who was a founding supporter of the Taree women’s refuge 35 years ago and manager between 1992 and 2004.
Jenny Aitchison MP, Shadow Minister for the prevention of Domestic Violence (Maitland) has also indicated she will attend the forum.
There will also be a screening of the film ‘Don’t Bash the Loving Out of Me’, filmed locally about 10 years ago, followed by a group discussion.
Leonie said the video is a strong statement, but sadly all the services listed at the end no longer exist in the Manning.
Many volunteer hours were invested by men and women to secure funding for the first women’s refuge in Taree.
Over time the hard work of volunteers saw a purpose-built refuge which offered a 24/7 face-to-face crisis response to women and children fleeing a domestic violence situation. “We had full wrap-around services and a trauma team for battered women and children.”
In 2014 the State government introduced the Going Home, Staying Home program, which saw domestic violence and homelessness services merged and management of refuges allocated to a large faith-based organisation.
She said people fleeing from domestic violence in the Manning do not get the same support as they did previously and can potentially place women and children in violent situations in more danger.
“The refuge was a community asset built by the community for the community and which had a deep understanding of local issues and how to respond to them. We are demanding a secular specialist domestic violence refuge be returned to the Manning to be run by women for women as in the the past.” She adds that it is the government’s duty of care to fully fund a quality service.
The meeting will be held at 7pm on Thursday June 8 in the Taree RSL and Golf Club meeting room at Club Taree.