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

Funds urgently needed to save the lives of women and children

Tanya* had suffered a long history of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her violent husband, but when her 13-year-old son risked his life trying to save her from yet another brutal attack she knew she had to escape.

She and her brave teen found a safe haven with Mary’s House Services, a community funded
organisation that runs a refuge and support services to help women leave abusive relationships.

Since opening its doors in Sydney’s north, Mary’s House Services has provided over 13,000 nights of critical care refuge for victims of domestic and family violence.

But they urgently need more support.

Gender-based and domestic and family violence in Australia has reached epidemic proportions. The murder last week of a Good Samaritan mother and her daughter in Perth, who were shot dead because of trying to protect their friends from a domestic abuser, was yet another horrifying example of the crisis engulfing the nation.

Mark Bombara killed Jennifer Petelczyc, 59 and her youngest daughter Gretl, 18, at their home while searching for his ex-wife. His daughter has since blasted the system that failed them, claiming she was ignored multiple times by police even though she told them her father was violent, abusive and had multiple guns.

The number of women killed by an intimate partner in Australia increased by nearly 30% in 2022-23. Those tragic statistics will be eclipsed in 2024, with one woman killed every four days, often by a partner or ex-partner.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has declared it a national crisis and both the federal and NSW government have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars with various initiatives to battle the crisis:

But this doesn’t help organisations like Mary’s House Services.

‘We have no government support,’ explained CEO Yvette Vignando. ‘We exist solely through the generosity of our community.’

‘Unfortunately, because of all the recent announcements about increased government funding many people believe the crisis is being managed and that organisations like ours will get a financial boost.’

‘Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth and our need for funds has never been more critical.’

‘We desperately need more accommodation as our refuge can only house four women and their children at any one time. efuges like ours save lives. The demand for refuge accommodation remains high so we urgently need to raise funds to increase our capacity to help.”

Yvette said the organisation also needs more caseworkers to give practical and emotional support to empower women to both escape domestic and family violence situations and then rebuild their lives.

In just the past six months their community outreach service, has helped more than 150 women with legal and financial advice, counselling, and well-being programs.

‘Most of what people read in the press is just the tip of a terrifying iceberg,’ Vignando said.

Ten women are hospitalised every day, up to 40,000 women are homeless every night, NSW police alone deal with up to 140 thousand domestic and family violence cases a year, with 33 thousand victims.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of other women and their children are still stuck in abusive relationships.

‘We never hear about them because they are too scared to get help,’ Vignando explained.

‘The promise of new government support is both welcome and crucial, but to prevent more women and children from being abused or killed so much more is still needed.’

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