Jenny’s Place Women and Children’s Refuge was established in 1977 by a group of strong and passionate women. They believed that women and children experiencing domestic violence deserved to have a safe place where they could receive the support and assistance they required to live a life free from violence and abuse.
The women approached the first female Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Joy Cummings, for a property that could be set up as a refuge. An old, two-bedroom house in Islington was retained, which the council charged a peppercorn rent of $1.00 per year. The kitchen was used as an office and we had numerous women and children not only sleeping in the bedrooms but on lounges and mattresses on the floor. A small house was given to Jenny’s Place by the RAAF base and placed on a council block of land behind the refuge. These premises were used to provide activities, support and programs for the children.
The staff employed were passionate about keeping women and children safe, as are the women who have kept Jenny’s Place continuing throughout the years.
Jenny’s Place was a strong part of the NSW Women’s Refuge Movement, who fought for women and children’s rights and lobbied for positive legislative change to keep our families safe in NSW, and across the nation. We worked with government, family and community services, police and child protection agencies to develop domestic violence and child protection protocols and procedures.
In 1988, Jenny’s Place received a purpose-built refuge that contained five bedrooms and communal living areas including a kitchen, lounge room, dining room, laundry, internal playroom, toilets and bathrooms. An outside child support building was also established, containing two playrooms, a kitchenette, a toilet and an office. This is used to provide one-to-one support and group work to preschool and school-age children. The programs include fun activities aimed at building self-esteem, giving children opportunities to express emotions, teaching living and coping skills as well as protective behaviours. Jenny’s Place acknowledges the trauma children experience by either witnessing or experiencing domestic violence or homelessness, and believes children need support to heal so they can grow into healthy adults. Children are seen as clients in their own rights and have case plans that are developed with their mothers to identify their needs and supports and are referred to specialist children’s services.
We continued to grow our services to meet the needs of women and children experiencing domestic violence in our community. Our Domestic Violence Resource Centre was established in 2008, knowing that there were many women and children experiencing domestic violence who needed support to escape a violent home. Not all of them needed accommodation but needed the support, information and referral, as well as someone to advocate on their behalf. This continues to be an essential service in our community for women and children experiencing domestic violence.
People drop in or ring up to make a time to meet with our specialist domestic violence and homeless assistance workers. Many of the people we support have never discussed their situation or domestic violence with anyone before. Their privacy and confidentiality is respected and we provide whatever support they require, linking them with essential services specific to them.
We also receive many referrals from services, agencies and people in the community who know someone who is experiencing domestic violence and want to know how they can support them.
In 2014, under the Specialist Homelessness Reform, Jenny’s Place was successful in tendering for our Women and Children’s Supported Crisis Refuge, a Single Women’s Crisis Refuge, Supported Transitional Accommodation and Outreach Support Program.
Jenny’s Place has a passionate team who are committed to keeping women and children safe, housed and free of violence in our community.