A $3million safe house for teenage mothers and their young children escaping domestic violence will be built in the eastern suburbs under a solid partnership between the State Government and the local community.
Child Protection Minister Sue Ellery said the refuge would provide emergency accommodation for mothers aged up to 18 years and their children who were at risk of becoming homeless because of violence in the home.
“There is a clear need in the metropolitan area for a specialised accommodation service for very young mothers and their children who need more intense care than what we can offer them at existing refuges,” Ms Ellery said.
“The refuges already operating in the Perth metropolitan area cater for either young homeless people without children or adult women with or without children escaping domestic violence.
“Teenagers with children need a different type of support, and while they could be accommodated in an adult women’s refuge, those safe houses do not have the kind of specialised support services that are needed for young mothers.
“This new refuge will provide access to a range of appropriate support programs to help the young mothers cope with their situations.”
The Minister said the Hills Community Support Group (HCSG), which first identified the need for a safe house in 2005 and canvassed support from the State Government and local business, would be the lead agency for the refuge.
The group was successful in securing operational funding of $450,000 per annum for four years from the Government in the 2008-09 State Budget, as well as $1.3million towards construction of a purpose-built facility.
Local business Midland Brick had also come forward with three blocks of adjoining land for the refuge to be built on, under a 20-year lease.
Hills Community Support Group spokesperson Megan Richards said she was excited that the project was on track. Up to six young mothers and their children from across the metropolitan area would soon have a safe place to escape domestic violence.
“It is wonderful to see the State Government, the local community and private enterprise working together to help these vulnerable young women and their children,” Ms Richards said.
“HCSG is now developing a best practice model which will guide how the refuge provides help for these young mums.”
Housing and Works Minister Michelle Roberts said construction of the new safe house was expected to begin later this year or early in 2009, with the opening expected about 12 months later.
“This refuge will be much more than bricks and mortar; it will provide a real safe haven for teenage mothers and their children,” Mrs Roberts said.
Ms Ellery said the Carpenter Government was committed to protecting women experiencing domestic violence and homelessness.
Through the joint State-Federal Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), Western Australia provided more than $19million each year for 138 services for people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The State Government increased its share of SAAP funding by 10 per cent in 2006-07 and provided an additional $1.5million for a new women’s domestic violence refuge in the northern suburbs that opened last year.
Office of the Minister for Child Protection - 9213 7150
Office of the Minister for Housing and Works - 9213 6600