Louisa Domestic Violence Service is a Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS). Under the Going Home Staying Home reform plan first announced by the then NSW Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward in February 2013, Molonglo tendered for a new domestic and family violence homelessness support service for Queanbeyan and Palerang. As we were successful in the tender process, our service is now contracted by the Department of Family and Community Services to provide early intervention, rapid rehousing, crisis and transition accommodation and intensive work with clients with complex needs.
Louisa Domestic Violence Service began life as Louisa Women’s Refuge, named after Louisa Lawson, the mother of Henry Lawson, an early advocate of women’s right to suffrage who in her writings drew attention to homelessness as a result of women having the courage to leave violent relationships. Louisa was founded by a group of women living in the local area who were inspired by the ideas of feminism and women’s rights that began to take hold in the late sixties and into the seventies. A collective was formed in 1979 to establish a service so that women and children had somewhere they could go in order to escape violence from a husband or partner. In 1980, the refuge moved in to its first premises. Over time, the refuge moved into another old house, and eventually, in …to a purpose-built refuge which can house up to six families and has office space also, as well as nice gardens, play areas for children, and a child support room with a separate playground.
Originally it was entirely self-funded, with help from various charities. It then began to attract piecemeal government funding, until eventually it began to receive funding under SAAP (Supported Accommodation Assistance Program). This program has now been replaced under the Going Home, Staying Home reform program of the NSW State Government.
There have been some real changes for the better since the organisation was first set up. However, providing services to those who have experienced abuse is sadly just as relevant today as it was then.