I have this belief that everyone should give back to the community of which they are a part. And I hold this especially true for businesses. Not every business is going to be able to give thousands of dollars to causes they care about. I admire those that do but there are many ways to help.
This idea came about late one night. I had shared yet another post about a domestic violence victim here in Australia. And I decided I wanted to do more. Sharing information about domestic violence across my social media platforms, signing petitions and writing letters to government didn’t seem enough.
So I started googling and came across an organisation called Women’s Community Shelters. They have branches in the Northern Beaches, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai, The Hills, Great Lakes, Nepean, Bayside and Parramatta areas. There are also plans to build new shelters in the Revesby and Camden areas. Camden is my Local Government Area so I thought this would be a perfect charity to lend my support to.
Blue Wren House
Blue Wren House is the name of the shelter planned for the local area of Camden in New South Wales. The name chosen aligns with an Aboriginal Dreamtime story. In this story, Pokulbi – a beautiful Aboriginal woman – is beaten by her husband. Pokulbi overcomes loneliness with the help of a small Blue Wren (bird) that makes her happy. The story explains that Blue Wrens bring joy and happiness to those who are sad or have been cruelly treated. A perfect symbol for the women seeking shelter and a new beginning.
Why the need for a shelter in the Camden area?
Camden is a local government area in the Macarthur region of Sydney. It consists of 20 suburbs and over 78,000 people according to the last government census. It is a vibrant and beautiful area. But unfortunately, it also has a high rate of family and domestic violence. Support workers in the area identified the need for a new shelter, despite the existence of other shelters within Macarthur.
What will Blue Wren House provide?
Blue Wren House will be run by a dedicated specialist staff around the clock. It will provide emergency shelter to women (and their children) fleeing violent situations. But the shelter will also provide a raft of other services. These include counselling and family support, interpreters, financial and legal advice, court and advocacy support and supported rental options.
Women seeking shelter will gain access to services while building their self-esteem. The aim will be to find women long-term accommodation within a 3 month period. No woman will be forced to leave the shelter without alternative accommodation in place. Blue Wren House wants to help women regain control of their lives while in a safe and supportive environment.
Who will build the new shelter?
In July 2017, the local Camden Cats AFL Club held a special gala night and raised $25,000 to get the project off the ground. With Women’s Community Shelters on board as well, this was a huge step forward. Soon after, in another act of generosity and community spirit, Masterton Homes offered to build the home at no cost.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors have caused the project timeline to be pushed back. It was hoped that Blue Wren House would be opening this year, but Masterton are not able to proceed immediately. This delay could mean it’s up to 2 years before the shelter is operational. As such, the Committee is seeking alternative options in the interim so that Blue Wren House can still operate and help women facing homelessness. If you are able to help in this regard, please contact Camden Women’s Shelter.
How will women in need access the service?
For security reasons, the location of the shelter won’t be publicised. Women’s Community Shelters will run the service and will develop an assessment criteria in line with community needs and current models at other existing shelters. Referrals will come through service providers, Link2Home (a statewide homelessness information and referral telephone service) and Police.
The Chairperson for Blue Wren House
A committee has been established to coordinate the establishment and function of Blue Wren House. The Chairperson of the Committee is Scott Taylor. Some might know Scott as the founder of local group Young Men of Macarthur (YMOM). YMOM is a community-based organisation where young men and boys can learn life skills from a variety of speakers in a risk-free and supportive environment.
Scott formed the group so that young men in the area could have access to positive role models. Having been exposed to elements of family violence during the earlier stages of his life, he knew how important this was in making a difference.
Through his work with Camden Women’s Shelter and Blue Wren House, Scott is now able to be more actively involved in bringing about change. He says it was an easy decision to accept the role of Chairperson. He explains, “I am surrounded by an incredibly inspiring and dedicated active Board, who are laser focused on doing all they can to provide the support needed for our most vulnerable, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved.”
How I’m helping and how you can help
There is obviously a need to reduce the occurrence of domestic and family violence. Equally, there is a need to provide immediate assistance to those in danger. So this means awareness and funding are crucial.
Being a copywriter and communicator, I thought I could help in both ways. Hence my writing of this post and my occasional sharing of information on this topic across my social media platforms.
Funding wise, I’ve set up a year-long fundraiser in an effort to raise much-needed money. At this point in time, Blue Wren House does not receive any government funding. At least $140,000 will be needed each year to keep it running.
This is a huge amount of money. The Committee of Blue Wren House is hoping the local community will come on board and help as much as possible. Education and awareness can help shift mindsets. It can also begin discussions that lead to further fundraising opportunities.
Once the shelter is operational there will be a chance for the community to volunteer and help in different ways. But for now, funding through donations is the biggest need. If you can spare even a few dollars, it would be most appreciated – and could mean the difference between life and death for a woman and her children.