The McGowan Government’s new, purpose-built family and domestic violence therapeutic women’s refuge has been officially opened by Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk.
The new refuge, Warlang Bidi – Supporting Women and Children, was built at a cost of $2.5 million and sets a new standard for refuges that enable women to live free from violence and have a place to call home.
The name Warlang Bidi means ‘healthy path’ in Noongar language and has been supported by elders and the community. It reflects the refuge’s aim to support women and children from across Western Australia on their healing journeys.
As well as providing accommodation for women and children, Warlang Bidi will deliver co-ordinated and tailored services for women who may be experiencing mental health concerns or harm from alcohol and other drugs.
The refuge will also assist with arranging appropriate care for women with complex health issues and support for women whose children have been taken into care.
These services will be delivered in partnership with multi-disciplinary providers including mental health professionals, domestic violence support workers, alcohol and drug counsellors, nurses and other organisations.
The therapeutic model will holistically manage each person’s needs, and was developed through an intensive co-design process with people with lived experience of family and domestic violence, community service providers, peak bodies and various government agencies.
Service provider OVIS Community Services will operate Warlang Bidi in partnership with Peel-based trauma counselling specialist, Allambee Counselling.
Allambee Counselling will oversee the therapeutic model and co-ordinate related services. Both organisations have a proven track record of supporting women and children, and a long and successful history of supporting the community in the Peel region.
The project was originally six accommodation units for women and accompanying children, but an additional $2 million investment by the State Government has enabled an additional six accommodation units to be built at the site over the next 12 months, effectively doubling its capacity.
The opening of the Peel refuge comes on the second day of the McGowan Government’s fourth 16 Days in WA to Stop Violence Against Women, which encourages Western Australians to wear orange, attend events and take action in their communities to show their support for an end to gender-based violence.
Further information on the 16 Days in WA to Stop Violence Against Women and a campaign kit, which includes a list of 16 ways to take action, is available on the Department of Communities’ website at https://www.communities.wa.gov.au/projects/16-days-in-wa
As stated by Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk:
“Family and domestic violence is an awful reality for too many women and children in Western Australia.
“It can have serious and ongoing impacts on the health and wellbeing of victims, with intimate partner violence accounting for approximately 5.1 per cent of the disease burden among Australian women aged 18 to 44 years – more so than any other risk factor.
“Warlang Bidi will provide an innovative specialist service for WA women, with or without children, who are escaping family and domestic violence.
“Significantly, the refuge’s therapeutic model will help to build the capability, resilience and safety of vulnerable women, helping them to get their lives back on track after experiencing violence.
“Accompanying children will be provided with support and activities to address the impact of family and domestic violence and trauma on their development and wellbeing.
“I’m proud to be opening WA’s first therapeutic refuge during the McGowan Government’s fourth 16 Days in WA campaign to stop violence against women, which is also key to our efforts to address high rates of family and domestic violence in the community.”
As stated by Mandurah MLA David Templeman:
“Before the 2017 election, I consulted closely with the Pat Thomas House board, Allambee Counselling and other local service providers, and it became apparent that there was a need for a new family and domestic violence refuge service in Peel.
“I’m very proud that the McGowan Government has now delivered a new refuge for the region that will begin helping women and children who have fled family and domestic violence and are in need of accommodation and support.
“This new therapeutic refuge will provide a vital service in the Peel community, delivering a significant increase in refuge capacity and additional support.”