Young family left stranded

Over Christmas and January, as the business world shut down for a break, we have been more internally focused, assisting families through some very difficult times, and planning ahead.

Particularly distressing was the way the system was unable to cope with the most basic need for safe accommodation after a traumatic incident. Instead of providing swift access to accommodation after a family home was deliberately burnt down, a young family spent days in and out of hotel rooms; waiting rooms or driving around the city aimlessly, waiting for a call from the homeless or family violence services to tell them where their next room would be.

The Police took it upon themselves to ring around, as did Child Protection who was trying to co-ordinate timely help. The family is now safe.

Why couldn’t the homeless or family violence systems assist at this crucial time? Hopefully some of the answers will emerge through the Royal Commission into family violence, which is due to release their finding on 29 March. Hopefully the leadership and courage to improve things, and well targeted resources will also flow into these areas of need.

We also look forward to the Federal election, which brings an opportunity to raise important issues such as the lack of a national affordable housing strategy.

McAuley Community Services for Women and the Sisters of Mercy will be adding our own, very significant, contribution to ending homelessness for single women and women with children, as we prepare to open our brand new, purpose built facility later in the year.

At the new building, we will pioneer a community hub and accommodation, offering programs sensitive to women’s specific needs. These will include education and employment, health, social and recreation programs. The facility will be staffed on a 24-hour basis, allowing for after hours and weekend community contact and support.

We will bring you more news as we accomplish each stage and will be inviting your involvement in our campaign to fit out the building and celebrate its opening.

We have consistently received the most amazing and generous support from so many of you who work alongside us, and we will again be reaching out to you as we launch our 2016 HighTeaAppeal.

As you will read, we are now registering hosts for our 2016 #HighTeaAppeal. Last year we raised $30,000 and gained many new friends from this deliciously easy, but tasty way of raising funds to keep women and children safe. This year, we are aiming for $60,000. I encourage you all to host a High Tea. It can be grand, simple, in your own home, on a train, in a church hall. Please register today.

So 2016 is a year of change. We look forward to bringing you our Women Matter newsletter. I would encourage you to tell your friends about signing up for our newsletter on our website so that more people will know what is going on and become involved.