THE Hills’ new women’s refuge, The Sanctuary, is unparalleled in the state.
The Hills local area commander, Superintendent Rob Critchlow, told Fairfax Media the shelter will not only be the first to have wheelchair access; it is also the first refuge wired to a police station.
‘‘The house has a duress alarm which is connected directly to my sergeant’s [police supervisor] office, which is manned 24 hours a day,’’ he said.
‘‘They can use the state-of-the-art CCTV system to monitor what’s happening at the house and send constables to assist in a very short space of time.
‘‘It’s a beautiful building and security is of a very high standard; I think it’s above standard.
‘‘I know of no other refuge wired to a police station like that one is.’’
Castle Hill police report an average of six calls a day in relation to intimate partner violence, with the average age of a family and domestic violence victim being 41.
‘‘I know of no other refuge wired to a police station like that one is’’- Superintendent Rob Critchlow
‘‘That has been consistent for some time,’’ Superintendent Critchlow said.
He said The Sanctuary meets an essential need in the community.
VIDEO: In this video, author, educator and Sanctuary board member Dannielle Miller speaks to Superintendent Robert Critchlow about how women who seek refuge at The Sanctuary will be kept safe.
As recently as last week Hills police had to place a local woman in care, but were forced to place her in southwest Sydney as there was nowhere in The Hills for her to go.
‘‘It was very confronting; the children [two sons] were very upset,’’ Superintendent Critchlow said.
‘‘She’s now going well, but it was just a very difficult situation.
‘‘What it [The Sanctuary] does is it also takes the pressure off the children and allows them to stay within their community and school community and keeps the victim closer to their support networks, which is an important factor in moving forward.’’
Under the terms negotiated by Superintendent Critchlow and Mitchell MP Alex Hawke, Castle Towers’ owner QIC will lend the specially fitted out building to The Sanctuary rent-free for three years.
The Sanctuary is working on the project with Women’s Community Shelters’ chief executive Annabelle Daniel, who in a little over a year opened a 10-bed refuge in Hornsby shire with the support of her community.
When it opens in late 2015, The Sanctuary will house up to six women and their families, providing 24/7 on-site support through case workers and a shelter manager.
A specialist child support worker will be available to case work with children who may have experienced domestic violence.
The site will have separate support services offices for the Lisa Harnum Foundation, who are leasing their own space and have their own governing board.
QIC will hand the shelter’s keys to The Sanctuary board at The Hills’ first White Ribbon breakfast at Castle Hill RSL, where Lisa Harnum Foundation will also be given keys.
Aileen Mountifield, of Middle Dural, established the foundation a year ago in honour and memory of Lisa Harnum who was thrown to her death from the balcony of her apartment in July 2011.
‘This is a unique, evolving community partnership aimed at eliminating domestic violence via educating and engaging young men and is based on best practice principles around early intervention’’- Dannielle Miller
The Sanctuary board member Dannielle Miller said the property will soon be fitted out with new furniture and appliances.
She has initiated a partnership with the largest boys’ school in the area, Oakhill College, who are making Welcome Packs for women and children at the shelter. They have also made anti-DV posters to be displayed at the White Ribbon breakfast.
‘‘This is a unique, evolving community partnership aimed at eliminating domestic violence via educating and engaging young men and is based on best practice principles around early intervention,’’ she said.
Superintendent Critchlow welcomed the initiative, saying ‘‘domestic violence is a male problem [and] if we can get young men engaged and aware of the potential impacts their behaviour can have and make a whole new generation of young men who respect woman, our whole society will be better off’’.
The college will also take part in The Hills’ first March Against Violence on White Ribbon Day and student leaders and teachers will form a table at the White Ribbon breakfast.
Details, donate: http://facebook.com/thesanctuaryshelter/?fref=ts.