If you are in danger call 000

Call Mary’s House Services on 1800 002 111

Call 24hr NSW Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63

Call Lifeline on 13 11 14

Empowering communities, protecting lives.

Mary’s House Services: A Beacon of Hope in Sydney

Join us to strengthen our mission of safety, support and independence for women and children.

Mary’s House Services was built by the community, for the community

Mary’s House Services was founded in 2015-16 by a dedicated group of residents from Sydney’s northern suburbs. The Mary’s House refuge was established to address the significant gap in government funded services and to save lives in the region by providing support for women and children impacted by domestic and family violence.

With a commitment to providing essential accommodation and tailored services for women and their children fleeing domestic and family violence or abuse, our founders wanted to ensure that Mary’s House Services clients’ feel safe, hopeful, and empowered to begin rebuilding their lives.

Our professional services now encompass comprehensive case management by specialised social workers and secure accommodation for up to four women and their children at a time. And since opening our doors, we have provided well over 13,000 nights’ accommodation at Mary’s House refuge.

In 2020 as an extension to our refuge, Mary’s House Services opened the doors of the Daisy Centre. Also located north of the Harbour Bridge, the Daisy Centre offers women who are victim-survivors of domestic and family violence a suite of therapeutic and wellbeing programs to assist them in their journey away from abusive relationships. The Centre also provides a location for our specialised social workers to provide outreach services to women living in the community.

Our services are designed to promote emotional and physical safety, increase financial independence, build social support and community connection, and are informed by evidence-based research, lived experience and input from our team of qualified social workers.

At Mary’s House Services, we are committed to making a tangible difference in the lives of those affected by domestic and family violence. We stand for gender equality and for women and children’s right to be safe from domestic and family violence and abuse.

Please join us in our mission to create a safer and more supportive community for all.

As a community-funded organisation, we rely on the generosity of individuals, businesses, philanthropists, trusts, foundations and corporate partners for financial donations and support in varying forms, including in-kind contributions, professional advice, advocacy, amplification of our cause and referrals to like-minded partners.

OUR CEO

Yvette Vignando

Yvette is a strong, values-based leader, passionate about Mary’s House Services’ core message. She has a track record of warmth and engagement. Yvette’s background includes legal practice, management in not-for-profit environments, fundraising, publishing and media, company secretarial and executive coaching with a specialisation in emotional intelligence. Her career reflects a commitment to contributing to community wellbeing and safety, particularly children’s social and emotional wellbeing, social justice, health and education.
OUR DIRECTORS

Our Board

  • Karen Bevan
    Karen Bevan
  • Helen Conway
    Helen Conway
  • Claire Cooper
    Claire Cooper
  • Josh Dowton
    Josh Dowton
  • Dr David Scott
    Dr David Scott
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Karen Bevan

Karen Bevan

Chair of the Board

Karen has 30 years’ experience working across government, research institutions and not for profit organisations in roles including executive leadership, strategy, operational leadership, policy analysis, research, training, service delivery and community development.

Through her experience she brings together a deep understanding of community services practice (particularly domestic and family violence, child protection, early childhood development, family support and out of home care), public policy, legislation and research to drive practice and strategy, systemic change and public policy development. She has deep experience working with all levels of government, community and NGO stakeholders to support strategy development and implementation. Karen has worked extensively in community engagement with diverse communities.

Karen has been a volunteer mentor with women who have experienced domestic and family violence seeking employment and is committed to improving the pathways and experiences of women and children fleeing domestic violence.

In addition to her Board role with Mary’s House Services, Karen is a member of the Youth Law Australia Board and a consultant and leadership coach for community services.

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Helen Conway

Helen Conway

Board Director

Helen Conway is an experienced leader, director, senior executive and lawyer who has worked in a range of organisations in the commercial, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Helen spent 10 years in private legal practice, including 7 years as a partner in a major law firm in Sydney, and then moved into the corporate sector where she worked as a senior executive in the insurance, transport, energy, retail and construction industries for 18 years. At the same time, she undertook various directorships in the health, transport and superannuation sectors.

Helen has demonstrated a strong commitment to community service, fairness, diversity and inclusion. She has undertaken voluntary work in a wide range of not-for-profit organisations. She was previously the Judicial Head of the NSW Equal Opportunity Tribunal.

Helen is a champion for women’s rights. She was previously the CEO of the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, a statutory authority with regulatory and other responsibilities.

Helen has recent experience as a director of commercial organisations in the insurance and energy sectors and as a director of not-for-profit entities involved in education, training and mental health. She is currently the Chair of YWCA Australia and a mentor with the not-for-profit, Kilfinan Australia.

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Claire Cooper

Claire Cooper

Board Director

Claire Cooper became involved with Mary’s House in March 2016, as part of the team recruiting and managing volunteers. She also headed a committee tasked with raising awareness of domestic violence among schools in the local community.

Claire has a degree in law from Southampton University, England and practised as a commercial property solicitor in London before moving to Sydney in 1991. She lived in Jakarta Indonesia for five years where she a founding member of Yayasan Balita Sehat, a Foundation for Mother and Child Health FMCH). Claire published a bi-lingual cookery book, the proceeds of which went to the FMCH. During this time she was also editor of the Grapevine magazine, a 54 page colour publication produced monthly for expatriates living in Jakarta.

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Josh Dowton

Josh Dowton

Board Director

Josh has been a friend of Mary’s House since 2016, and brings to the Board a wealth of experience in community engagement, partnership brokering, transformational community development, adult education, and local church ministry. He has a passion for systems thinking, strategic planning, and organisational health.

Josh was one of the founding members (and is the current Chair) of the Crows Nest Safe Village Project, which brings together local services, organisations, Councils, and faith groups to respond to and reduce domestic abuse in the local community.

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Dr David Scott

Dr David Scott

Board Director

David is an experienced not-for-profit director with diverse skills in leadership, corporate governance, financial analysis, mergers and acquisitions, strategy, research, and social policy.

He has over ten years of experience as a not-for-profit non-executive director and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD). David was President of Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury Sydney.

David’s banking career included heading the team responsible for all Commonwealth Bank mergers and acquisitions in CBA’s Group Strategic Development department.

David has academic qualifications in science, social policy (PhD, MPS) and an MBA. His PhD research provides practical insights to enhance advocacy efforts for marginalised Australians.

He is a non-executive director at Transform Aid International (Baptist World Aid Australia) and non-executive director and President at Council on the Ageing (NSW).

Listen to the voices of clients from Mary’s House Services

The voices in this digital clip may upset some viewers – they are real. Domestic violence survivors recorded these thoughts some time ago – they were safe at the time and remain safe. Participation was managed in a trauma-sensitive way, with full permission for our use to tell their story.

Play Video