BONNIE WOMEN'S REFUGE
Mr NICK LALICH
(Cabramatta) [9.43 p.m.]: I draw the attention of the House to a wonderful local organisation within my electorate of Cabramatta—the Bonnie Women's Refuge. Bonnie Women's Refuge Limited was established in 1974 in response to the needs of women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, and unfortunately today the services are required more than ever. Early in 1974 a group of women met in Green Valley to discuss the needs of local women. They resolved to establish a domestic violence refuge and women's health centre. They formed an organising committee, which successfully approached the Department of Housing to secure use of a house in Bonnyrigg previously destined for demolition. Thus the Bonnie Women's Refuge was born.
Bonnie relied on donations of food, clothing and labour from the business community and the general public. It was also supported financially by other great benevolent societies such as the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Smith Family and other charitable organisations. With funding secured, Bonnie relocated to Liverpool and remained there for 18 months. During that time consultations took place with the Rotary club, Fairfield City Council and other agencies that resulted in the council making available a block of land at Canley Heights for a permanent home. Today Bonnie Women's Refuge Limited operates with a grant from the Department of Community Services under the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program.
The refuge operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is a testament to the service and the commitment of the people who work at the refuge. The refuge operates as a non-profit organisation with a voluntary board of directors. Since its establishment, Bonnie has expanded the original house, which now operates as the main office and resource centre and two crisis houses operate from the same site. Bonnie's mission is to support women with or without children who are experiencing or have experienced domestic and family violence and who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. They work to enhance women's skills, knowledge and capacities through the provision of information, referral, support, counselling and advocacy to enable women to make informed choices and to enhance their opportunities to participate in social, economic and cultural life and many other activities within the community. Bonnie Women's Refuge also helps women to develop supportive and trusting relationships, self-management skills and accountability, thus helping them to enhance their confidence and independent living skills.
I take this opportunity to put on record the fabulous work of general manager, Nirma Lee, who has worked at the refuge since 1986. Nirma's commitment to and passion for the work she does is to be congratulated and commended. On behalf of the New South Wales Government and the community, I put on record my sincere thanks to all the employees and volunteers at the Bonnie Women's Refuge. Their work for and commitment to the local community and what they selflessly continue to do is greatly appreciated and priceless. They play an integral part in the Cabramatta community and ensure that women and children in the toughest of situations have sympathetic and caring people to talk to and a safe and warm place to go to whenever the need arises.
Mr BARRY COLLIER
(Miranda—Parliamentary Secretary) [9.47 p.m.]: I thank the member for Cabramatta for bringing to the attention of the House the wonderful work of Bonnie Women's Refuge. It is a sad indictment on our society in a modern, sophisticated world that we need women's refuges at all. This refuge has been operating since 1974 caring for women and children confronted by domestic violence and who have had to leave their home because of a violent partner. The refuge provides counselling, advocacy and support for women violent relationships.
The refuge is supported by the local council, the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Department of Community Services and the local Rotary group. Volunteers and workers under the guidance of general manager Nirma Lee make a valuable contribution to attacking and defeating the scourge of domestic violence in our society. I once again thank the member for Cabramatta for bringing to our attention the Bonnie Women's Refuge. On behalf of the Government I thank those involved for their support of women in the electorate of Cabramatta. I wish them all the very best in their future endeavours.