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‘Sanctuary’ opens for women and children fleeing violence in the NT

Commissioner Miriam Gluyas with Salvation Army personnel and teams, Family and Domestic Violence staff, dignitaries and major donors at the opening of the Palmerston, NT, facility. Images courtesy of Charlie Bliss.



The Salvation Army has unveiled a refuge for women and children escaping violence in the Northern Territory.

The Family Violence Refuge Service was officially opened in Palmerston on 10 April. The centre is set to offer safe housing for approximately 40 women and 70 children over the next 12 months, with a purpose-built facility comprising 10 crisis accommodation units.

Special guests from The Salvation Army, Territorial Government and Indigenous community at the opening.

The rate of those fleeing family violence in the region has outnumbered the accommodation available of its kind in the past few years.

The Salvation Army’s General Manager for Family and Domestic Violence Services, Lorrinda Hamilton, said family and domestic violence was one of the leading causes of homelessness for women and children.

“It is vital that women fleeing abuse have a safe place to recover and rebuild their lives,” she said. “This new facility will allow more vulnerable women and children to have such a sanctuary.”

Kate Worden, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence in the NT, addressed those gathered for the Palmerston opening.

The refuge, which was built over three years, features eight two-bedroom units for small families and two one-bedroom units designed with access for women with a disability that are also large enough for a woman and an infant. They come with a children’s play area, individual kitchen and bathroom.

Clients will receive new linen and welcome packs as well as therapeutic toys, which remain theirs when they leave the centre.

The facility was built on an existing site for almost $8.5 million, including $5.6 million provided by the Commonwealth Government Safe Places Program. As part of this program, the Northern Territory Labor Government has also committed $852,000 in funding from August 2022 and a further $5.9 million over the next four years towards operational costs to provide critical support for women and children fleeing domestic and family violence.

The Salvation Army funded the remainder of the cost of the build through bequests and the sale of a property. The cost of the swing set was covered by long-term donors to The Salvation Army, Bo and Lindsay Wharton, who have donated more than $200,000 to The Salvation Army.

Lorrinda said the design drew on local feedback, international and national evidence and best-practice research.

“The centre will provide specialist family violence services and therapeutic, functional, independent and culturally sensitive accommodation to address the increased demand for family violence refuge in the area,” she explained. “We are deeply grateful to the Federal and State Governments who have supported this critical response.”

The facility is one of 15 Salvation Army refuges of its kind across Australia, with more set to open later this year in Western Australia and Tasmania through the same state and Commonwealth funding model.

Transforming hope

Commissioner Miriam Gluyas attended the opening, and said the centre was an incredible facility with beautiful staff who would bring life and hope to families who had experienced things that they should never have gone through.

Commissioner Miriam Gluyas speaks with Professor Hugh Heggie, Administrator of the Northern Territory.

“Our mission statement says that wherever there is hardship or injustice Salvos will live, love and fight alongside others, transforming Australia one life at a time with the love of Jesus,” she said. “This is what our DV centre at Palmerston is all about.”

The Salvos’ Family and Domestic Violence Services team offers Prevention and Early Intervention Services; Specialist Family Violence Case Management Services; Refuge and Accommodation Services; Men’s Programs; Children and Parenting Services; Brokerage Services; Counselling Services; Security and Safety Upgrades; and Orange Door Services to those fleeing or recovering from violence.

In 2023, The Salvation Army provided 123,000 nights of refuge and emergency accommodation, helping a total of 10,000 women and children.

Family and domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children in Australia, with one in four women experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime.  



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