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Byron Shire
January 25, 2021

Ballina women’s and children’s refuge re-opens

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Crowd at the opening of the Ballina women’s and children’s refuge. Photo supplied.

With demand sadly higher than ever, the Ballina community has come together to renovate and re-open the local women’s and children’s refuge.

Momentum Collective took over the running of the Ballina refuge eighteen months ago.

At the time, the building was in need of repair. Now the renovations are complete and the facility has also been made disability accessible.

Those attending the recent official opening heard that refuge workers worked long hours on the project, alongside many community supporters, to ensure the re-opened facility could offer a safe and welcoming space for women and children escaping domestic and family violence.

The official opening began with a welcome to country from local elder Aunty Nancy Walke.

Strong advocacy

Momentum’s Community Support Manager Michelle Teece said funding for the refurbishment of the refuge was made available after some strong advocacy from people including Sarah Dybing and Steve Wenzel.

‘Ballina needed this refuge, and the women and children who rely on our support deserve to have a space that is safe, comfortable and allows them to recover,’ she said.

Ms Teece then introduced the team of workers who will provide support and programs for women and children who access the service, including Senior Case Worker Christina Reynolds, Women’s House Officer Cushla Johnstone and Clear Minds Case Worker Fiona Tate.

‘This team has advocated for every detail in the house. We had a wish list for the builders and we have ticked everything off the list,’ said Ms Teece.

‘We’ve all been here helping out with painting and cleaning to make sure the house is ready to welcome clients,’ she said, noting that an important part of the renovation was to make the entrance and rooms accessible for women and children who live with disabilities, unlike before.

Community supporters

Michelle Teece said community members and organisations who assisted with the refurbishment of the refuge included RizeUp, Ballina-on-Richmond Rotary, Carpet Call and a local organic skincare company.

She also thanked Adrian Wilsem (Community Support Manager at the Ballina Salvage Shed) for helping to prepare the refuge for re-opening, in his own time.

Momentum Collective CEO Virginia Walker congratulated the team for creating an ‘amazing space’. She said the renovated refuge would support people recovering from trauma and assist them to rebuild their lives.

‘You should all be so proud. This is an incredible space that will help so many women,’ said Ms Walker.

Ballina Rotary President Dave Harmon also attended the refuge opening. He handed over a $1500 donation that will be used to assist women and children when they leave the refuge and set up their own new homes.

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