Hay safe house will save women two hour drive to Griffith

23 February, 2020
Hay safe house will save women two hour drive to Griffith  Image

SFF Murray MP Helen Dalton has urged the NSW Government to consider a wonderful community proposal to convert a dormant government building in Hay into a safe house for women and children fleeing violence.

Hay volunteer group Community Action for Suicide Elimination (CASE) has put forward a case to convert the now unused Public Works building at 414 Moppett St Hay into a safe house.

CASE has offered to manage and staff the facility. The community group just needs a small amount of government funding to renovate and upgrade the dormant building.

“Currently, women, children and men fleeing domestic violence in Hay have to travel almost two hours to reach the nearest safe house, which is in Griffith,” Mrs Dalton said

“This is completely unacceptable. Can you imagine doing that late at night on our kangaroo-plagued roads?”.

“The lack of safe houses and other facilities in small towns puts vulnerable women and children at a much greater risk of violence”.

“This community proposal appears to be a win-win. An vacant building would be utilised for something for which there is a great community need”.

Mrs Dalton accompanied CASE Chairman Bob Dougall in a visit to Minister for Families and Community Services Gareth Ward in October, when Mr Dougall pleaded his case to the Minister.

Minister Ward appeared moved by Mr Dougall’s case, and promised to investigate what could be done.

“I’d really like to see the government get things moving and assess the suitability of this proposal,” Mrs Dalton said

No children contact centre in Hay or Griffith

At the same meeting with Minister Ward, Mrs Dalton raised the urgent need for a children’s contact centre in Griffith, which provides supervised meetings between children and their parents in situations where unsupervised contact is not possible.

The lack of a children’s contact centre in Griffith and surrounds has devastating consequences for children of separated parents.

The closest contact centre in Wagga – a two-hour drive from Griffith, three hours from Hay – currently has an 18-month waiting list. This means there are children who have gone up to a year without seeing their mother or father. Families (often grandparents) lucky enough to be serviced by the Wagga centre have to travel there and back at their own considerable expense.

Tracey Febo, Regional Manager for Centacare South West NSW Griffith, and solicitor Julia Puntoriero have devised a business plan for a children’s contact centre in the town. They just need some government funding to get it off the ground.

“I’ve sent their very strong business case to Minister Ward,” Mrs Dalton said

“Our most vulnerable children and families are suffering immensely due to lack of basic services in small towns”.

“Some wonderful community members have come up with solutions. It’s time for government to back them up”.

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