A Katoomba-based organisation that has helped women and families affected by domestic violence and homelessness for 30 years will shut its doors at the end of this month after new tenders were awarded to larger service providers in Penrith.
Blue Gum House (BGH) manager Indeana Black and her team of three case managers were informed the service and its office at 23 Waratah Street will close on October 31 as a result of a competitive tender process, which will see Penrith Domestic Violence Services and Mission Australia take over.
“It will be a very sad day because after 30 years — and the last 25 based in this Katoomba cottage — we are very well-known in the community, so this is going to be a huge loss,” Ms Black said.
BGH’s Katoomba office serves as a drop-in centre and a place for staff to provide face-to-face support services like initial counselling, referrals and facilitating support groups like art expression and therapy.
The not-for-profit organisation also provides 14 transitional accommodation units specifically for domestic violence victims for stays of up to two months.
Under the new arrangements these accommodations will be split three ways between catering for the general homeless (adults/families and youth) as well as people affected by domestic violence.
“There will be a net loss of transitional accommodation places for people recovering from domestic violence — mainly women and their children — at a time when domestic violence is the biggest contributor to homelessness,” Ms Black said.
“Even though there will be transitional domestic violence support services still available in our region, there will be less funding and less specialised services and this will have a huge impact over time.”
BGH case managers Maree Smith and Alison David are disappointed the service is closing but feel privileged to have been part of so many clients’ lives.
“We’d just like to say thanks to the community, the volunteers and people who have supported the organisation over many years,” Ms David said.
Ms Smith said BGH assisted a lot of women who, with housing support, were able to get their lives back on track after experiencing domestic violence.
“There’s been some really hard work done in here but also some tremendous outcomes,” Ms Smith said.
“Whether it be women re-entering the workforce, studying at university or even starting their own business.
“One lady in her 50s recently told us her stay was the first time in her life she can remember feeling safe.”
BGH can be contacted on 4782 3553.