McAuley House, Victoria’s first purpose built accommodation and support hub for women who are homeless opened in Pickett St, Footscray on November 30, 2017. The opening celebration was attended by politicians, Sisters of Mercy, supporters, donors and staff.
The $11m building was largely funded through the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea ($7m) and the Andrews Labor Government ($4m). The idea for a ‘new’ McAuley House, to replace the building in North Melbourne, which was built as an orphanage in the 1930s, emerged four years ago. Construction of the 25 bedroom, four-storey building, began two years ago.
Jocelyn Bignold, CEO of McAuley Community Services for Women, said: “Our objective was to build a sustainable building that offers women facing homelessness a safe community that promotes respect and values the dignity and worth of each woman.
“Ultimately, McAuley House is designed to foster a spirit of harmony, security and empower women to achieve independence. We all deserve decent homes and supportive environments. We have a transformational building which we hope will stimulate change in the lives of those who live here," she added.
McAuley House has a specialist focus on those women who have experienced, or are experiencing, family violence and mental illness. In addition to accommodation, it will also act as a hub for community services that will reach over 100 women each year. New programs that are sensitive to women’s specific needs will be pioneered, including education and employment, health, social and recreation opportunities.
“This building will become the hub of our work – we are open every day of the year and will reach many more women through this site; particularly women now stuck in refuges,” Ms Bignold told guests.
“We tailor our support so that each person can move on confidently and remain safely housed once they leave, always knowing that they can call back in for companionship or support if they need it.”
“This building is a showcase of how we can provide services to other people who are homeless – we’ve long known that light, well designed and beautiful spaces promote health and well being – our model should be replicated elsewhere.”
This is particularly pertinent at this time when the demand for housing is higher than ever. Last year Victoria experienced:
- 19% increase in the need for services in the last 12 months
- 10,000 in urgent need of housing
- 39% because of family violence
About McAuley House
McAuley House supports women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness on their journey towards recovery and independence by providing medium term accommodation, meals and intensive and individualised case management support.
Many women have experienced hardship and have struggled to survive for years before they arrive at McAuley House. In a unique residential setting, we offer women a safe community in which to live while they regain their health and wellbeing, rebuild their family and community connections, develop their independent living skills and begin their journey towards independence.
Women who are in their own homes are still be able to engage in recreation and social activities.
We also offer a respite service to women living in the community who may need additional, temporary support.
Both current and past residents also have the opportunity to participate in a social and recreation program which aims to build self-esteem through conversation, participation in outings and social activities such as community nights, and the celebration of important life events. This helps to foster a sense of belonging, and a spirit of acceptance and security.
Find out about the McAuley House Women's Homelessness Program in our booklet, A safe place to call home.