A new support service for women dealing with domestic violence has opened in Rouse Hill.
The “safe room” at Rouse Hill Town Centre will enable people to see a case worker without the fear of being found out.
The “safe room” program in shopping centres is being rolled out by the Lisa Harnum Foundation which offers a range of services for women facing domestic abuse.
LHF Executive Director and founder, Aileen Mountifield, said it was vital that women could access help in a shopping centre which provided a “safe” destination.
“If a woman’s movements are being tracked there is nothing suspicious about her visiting a shopping centre or being seen in a shopping centre.” She said women seeking help needed to call the LHF’s 1300 number and set up a time to meet a qualified caseworker who would take them to the “safe room” to talk.
“We are a one-stop shop. Our professional counsellors can give advice, court support and advocacy,” said Mrs Mountifield. “They know how to guide women through the system. The first step is always the hardest step…it can be very frightening.”
“Since COVID-19 came on the scene all the services have been very concerned because partners are now at home, schools are closed and so there are limited opportunities for women to get out and seek help.”
She thanked Rouse Hill Town Centre management for its support.
“It’s such a massive bonus being able to have a safe room in a shopping centre,” she said.
The Rouse Hill Town Centre “safe room” is the third established by the LHF. The first was at Castle Towers Shopping Centre nearly three years ago and the second was at Macquarie Shopping Centre 18 months ago.
Last year 80 women were seen by a LHF caseworker at the Castle Towers “safe room”.
“Some women just wanted information and advice while other women needed on-going support.,” said Mrs Mountifield.
“We feel we are going to get a tsunami of women seeking help when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.”