Vital boost to refuge

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
Bunbury MLA Don Punch hands over a grant of almost half a million dollars to South West Refuge board chair Alison Comparti and CEO Michelle Bickers.
Camera IconBunbury MLA Don Punch hands over a grant of almost half a million dollars to South West Refuge board chair Alison Comparti and CEO Michelle Bickers. Credit: Callum Hunter

This year got off to a breathtaking start for the South West Refuge, which was presented with a half-million dollar grant courtesy of Lotterywest at Guppy Park yesterday.

The grant was the result of an application submitted early last year, with the $492,000 to be put towards the refurbishment and expansion of the refuge.

“This is vital to the continuation of service for us to increase capacity of the refuge from five beds to seven,” South West Refuge chief executive Michelle Bickers said.

“That will allow us to help a lot more women in the community.”

Last year about 100 women and children were unable to receive assistance from the refuge due to it being at capacity, with the new expansions estimated to cater for an additional 70 people per year.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch was on hand to present the grant, and said he could not think of a more worthy recipient.

“I’m really pleased it’s going to a locally managed and local organisation,” he said.

“I wish the services of the refuge weren’t needed, but given the prevalence of family and domestic violence in our community, I commend the Refuge for its commitment to continually improving and extending the vital services it offers to women and children.

“Being able to have community services managed by locals is incredibly important.”

Aside from the additional bedrooms, a designated homework area for children will be included in the project as well as a new administration building.

“There are three prongs to our service,” refuge board chair Alison Comparti.

“We have the refuge service itself which is emergency accommodation, then we have transitioning housing which allows people integrate back into the community at large and an outreach service called Safe at home.

“It allows us to send staff into the homes of women and children once the perpetrator has been removed where we can assist them with everything they require.”

According to Mrs Comparti, between seven and 11 per cent of the refuge’s annual budget was raised through fundraising, with events like the charity golf day held at throughout the year.

The 2018 edition of this event raised $21,000 for the refuge, while the upcoming Classy Girls Wear Pearls lunch in Wellington Forest has raised more than $8000 in the past.

“We really value community support and community donations,” Ms Bickers said.

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