Refuges are places for women and children escaping domestic and family violence to receive safe and supported short-term crisis accommodation throughout Australia. They can also be known as safe houses or shelters.
The length of time someone will stay in a refuge depends on their individual needs and their personal circumstances. The evidence shows separation is the most dangerous time for women experiencing domestic and family violence.
No two stories of people coming into refuge are the same, however all people coming into refuge will have access to specialist, intensive support. Support workers in the refuge will help their clients with support, validation and advocacy. They will provide risk assessment and safety planning, assistance with Centrelink, financial institutions, long term accommodation needs and family court matters.
The location and details of women’s refuges are highly confidential and not available to the public. This is to protect the safety and security of both the refuge and the clients who call the refuge their home.
If you are in Queensland, you can download a guide that provides more information about refuges here.
Most of the time you will be allowed to stay at the safe house for as long as you need. Sometimes some facilities are not able to accommodate a long stay. However, if you need to stay for longer than the facility will allow the staff on hand will be able to assist you. This is rare and most of the time it will simply be up to you as to how long you stay for.
What a safe house is like will vary from location to location. Some locations have some self-contained units for a family. These units come with a small kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom. Others have a communal set-up. You will have a room for yourself and your children, while common areas will be shared by the other woman and children staying there. All offer the same level of safety and security.
Simply call the domestic violence hotline number 1800 811 811. You would have seen that number across the website. Once you call the number a counselor will talk to you, ask you some details about your situation, then help you find safety.
Unfortunately, you will not be able to store furniture or a large amount of personal effects at a safe house. You will be able to take some basic necessities and a few personal belongings. Things like clothing, jewelry, small items of sentimental value, toiletries, photographs, and your children's favourite toy/s will be ok.
Each safe houses are sensitive to different cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds. They will try their hardest to accommodate the needs of people to participate in their religion where required. If you need any help just talk to the staff.