A safe haven

Imagine you’re a woman experiencing domestic violence. You have children and you want to leave the situation but you fear that you will become homeless and unable to cope financially. What if you incite further violence? You have confided in no one and have no emotional support. With all this weighing on your mind and very little self-esteem, how can you possibly overcome all these complex barriers standing in your way? Where would you go? Who would you turn to?

For Novocastrian women in that situation thankfully there’s Jenny’s Place, which provides essential specialist domestic violence services, crisis accommodation and housing.

Jenny’s Place also runs the Newcastle Domestic Violence Resource Centre. The only one of its kind in the area, the centre provides a safe and confidential space for women where they can contact specialist case workers and receive support information, advocacy and referral services.

‘Domestic violence is extremely prevalent in our community and for more than 40 years we have provided help to some of our city’s most vulnerable people. We run two crisis accommodation properties and 15 transitional ones. The women and children that come to us have often had to leave absolutely everything behind and are literally fearing for their lives,’ tells Marcia Chapman, Services Manager, Jenny’s Place.

‘Women living with violence often don’t know what services are available. We link them with support networks in the community and let them know their options. We offer safety and escape planning advice and specialist counselling. We help with access to free professional legal advice and financial support. Some of them are reaching out for the first time and our response is crucial to ensuring that they get the right information so that they can live free from violence,’ tells Saibre Johnstone, Corporate Partnership Worker, Newcastle Domestic Violence Resource Centre.

The Resource Centre, which sees an average 65 adults and 60 children each month, does not receive any government funding, and relies entirely on community donations, small grants, and fundraising. When Port Waratah provided support to the tune of $160,000 over a two year period, the centre was able to increase staff numbers and extend its operating hours to five days a week,’ she says.

The centre also began a free training program for Newcastle businesses on early intervention and prevention. About the training Johnstone says, ‘We train employees who may come into contact with victims of domestic violence through their job function. We teach them what to look for, the early warning signals, and how to respond to disclosures of domestic violence. We train them how to talk with  peers that they’re concerned about, and let them know where to find relevant support services. So far, all the companies we’ve worked with have been very positive about the training.’

The Newcastle Domestic Violence Resource Centre is the city’s only specialist service that provides victims with information about domestic and family violence. It is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm, at the Joy Cummings Centre, on the corner of Scott and Pacific Streets.

If you or someone you know is in danger, please call Jenny’s Place Newcastle to find out about how they can help.

Jenny’s Place provides crisis accommodation and housing. It also runs Newcastle’s only Domestic Violence Resource Centre, providing a safe, confidential space for women to access specialist domestic violence services, support information, and advocacy and referral services.

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