Safety boost for at risk Limestone Coast women

SAFE SPACE: The Haven - Mount Gambier will open on May 3 at the Mount Gambier Library, with specially trained volunteers delivering domestic, family and sexual violence support.

WOMEN and their children experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence in the Limestone Coast will soon have better access to help and information with the opening of a new safety hub in Mount Gambier.

The Haven – Mount Gambier will open on May 3 at the Mount Gambier Library, with specially trained volunteers staffing the facility from 9am to 4pm from Monday to Friday.

Women will be able to access information, referrals and support from volunteers and may provide help with housing and legal matters, family intervention, counselling, drug and alcohol services and phone and computer access.

A range of online, Zoom and telephone services will be available at the hub and staff will also provide direct referrals to other agencies and services in the Limestone Coast including police, mental health, financial counselling and medical services.

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said the safety hubs were one of many measures rolled out by the State Government to support at-risk women and children. “It’s vital that women and their children living in regional South Australia have the same opportunity to feel safe and supported as those living in inner Adelaide.

“Our safety hubs are not only boosting community understanding about domestic violence and are a safe haven for support, they are empowering women to help each other by training and up-skilling local volunteers.

“Given the varying needs and challenges of different South Australian regions, the hubs are developed in partnership with local frontline service providers to ensure each one is tailor-made for the community it serves.”

The Mount Gambier hub is one of four facilities to share in a total of $300,000 of Federal Government funding, enabling their opening to be fast-tracked in 2021 in response to the Covid pandemic.

Centrecare Limestone Coast Domestic Violence Service manager Susie Smith hoped the space will facilitate women to build confidence and courage to disclose information about their private lives and identify potential abusive behaviours before it escalates.

“The facility is a gateway which will provide women options and give them information to allow them to unpack the situation which will increase their power and awareness,” she said.

“But it is not just about domestic violence, women will be able to go in there for whatever reason they want whether they need legal help or to access counselling.

“It is about volunteers having an antenna to help women who haven’t had the chance to identify problematic behaviours in their relationship see the red flag.”