Raymond Terrace crisis accommodation ready to help break cycle of abusive relationships

Safe House 2

Port Stephens Examiner

A long-awaited crisis accommodation unit for Port Stephens women and children is complete.

For nearly six months Port Stephens police with a trade background have wired, plumbed and plastered the Raymond Terrace unit in a joint project with Port Stephens Council and Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services.

As a finishing touch, Friends with Dignity have placed furniture, electrical items, food and even games, into the unit.

“After a lot of hard work the house has been finished and turned into a home with the help of these Friends,” Port Stephens local area command Superintendent Chris Craner said.

“If a woman has plans to leave an abusive relationship this unit must be a part of that plan.”

Friends with Dignity usually works with women after they have been through a refuge with help to furnish a new home.

It grew out of the Brisbane-Gold Coast area, with services now on offer in Newcastle – with more areas to follow.

“This is the first time we’ve got involved in domestic violence services at this stage of the process,” Friends with Dignity Newcastle programs manager Sue Stackman said.

“We’ve done 38 homes with women in Newcastle and we want to expand into the Port Stephens area.”

The Raymond Terrace unit has mostly been furnished with high quality second hand items.

“Some of these items have even come from women who have fled domestic violence in the past,” Ms Stackman said.

PFANS will manage the unit placing women and their children in the unit as required.

Co-manager Sue Pollock said it was the little touches like the mural in the children’s bedroom, courtesy of Alesco School, down to torches on the beds, which made it a home.

“This unit means mums don’t have to think about where they are going to sleep tonight, what to eat or even what to pack, it’s all here,” she said.

“For children it’s so important to lessen the trauma and provide a soft place to land.”

The keys were presented to PFANS on Monday. Ms Pollock said the unit gave it and clients options.

“Women don’t need to make the decision right now, in a moment of distress and trauma, now might be just a good time to talk to us and take some time out in this safe space,” she said.

Friends with Dignity will hold a community information night on April 3 at Raymond Terrace Bowling Club from 6pm.

The night is for anyone who would like to help families affected by domestic violence.

Visit friendswithdignity.org.au or call Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services on 4987 4674.