Women’s Services have been supporting and nurturing the women of the Lockhart River since 30 November 1999. The good news is, there is less and less call on the Services to mitigate the effects of domestic violence, and its role as an activities centre is growing by the day.
That is a very inspiring statistic that reflects the positivity and progress evident throughout the community in the past few years.
The spacious Women’s Services building, situated right across the road from the Police Station, was constructed in 1998 for the specific purpose of providing safe haven for women and children suffering the effects of domestic violence.
It is also classed as a homeless shelter, which is another component to the funding received from government to ensure continuity of services.
The shelter offers safe haven, company and counselling to all women. It represents a safe place to get away from the current situation at home in the short term, sometimes just for a bit of head space until the partner at home calms down.
The two main referral services are the Queensland Police Services and the Health services.
Women from other communities have also spent some respite time at the Shelter, for example from Bamaga and Coen, the latter community sharing many close blood ties.
On arrival at the Shelter, either directly to the front gate or via referral services, one of three popular local ladies will provide one on one counselling. Three very dedicated ladies run the facility as a team, working two weeks on, two weeks off in rotation, working on call to provide comfort and advice to local women in need.
Ethel Singleton is the Coordinator of Women’s Services. Ethel has been in Lockhart River for over 21 years and has a wealth of experience, and ideas for positive diversionary activities.
Lorraine Clarmont was born and raised in the Lockhart River community and has assisted many women in the community, of all ages.
Luka Pearl Getawan came to Lockhart from Badu as a young bride at the age of 21. Luka is well known for her love of singing, and is a great inspiration to the many singers in the community.
When a woman comes to the shelter for safety, some time is spent discussing their situation and offering counselling one on one. Sometimes just removal from the negative situation at home for a short while or overnight is sufficient, and when women are ready to go back they can go, knowing there is always one or more of the three ladies on call to help if needed.
In the event of refuge sought as a result of domestic violence, a safety plan is put in place, so the victim of violence knows exactly what to do in that event, and that includes coming to the Shelter directly, or via the Police.
Expert help is provided by Royal Flying Doctor Service and Apunipima Health Service counsellors, and other counsellors can be brought in as necessary. Occasionally, women are evacuated to another shelter, perhaps in Cairns, sometimes for up to three months. Different social services visit the community a couple of times a month, and it’s completely up to the women whether they choose to talk to them about the issues they are experiencing. For the most part, we settle it all within the community.
Cups of tea and friendly welcomes are always on tap, and for those staying overnight, meals are cooked, and one or more of the Shelter’s volunteers is on hand for informal chat or women may choose to watch the television with their children, or have a shower before bed in one of the four family rooms upstairs. Downstairs, another bedroom and bathroom caters for visitors with special needs.
The Women’s Centre staff are working hard to get women’s activities going again, such as sewing activities and basket weaving using wattle grass, and there are plans afoot to start to experiment with raffia grass. There are walking expeditions to the beach and the ladies organise ‘Pamper Days’, where all manner of women’s beauty treatments come to the fore – hair dyeing hair, manicures, pedicures, skin treatments and so on.
In 2017 the Men’s Shed challenged the Women’s Centre in a Christmas dancing competition at the community hall. The women won and the competition was repeated in the New Year and the women won again. Dancing is a very popular activity and the ladies are keen to hold their ‘title’. The challenge is on!
Margaret (Margie) Barnes, Manager of Community Development Services is keen to see the ladies come and see what the Women’s Services are doing in the Lockhart River community.
“But we’d also like our own community members to tell us what they would like to see here. That’s very important, and we’d love the women of our community to make suggestions for activities, and in fact, any suggestions as to services we could provide above and beyond what we are currently doing.”Margaret BarnesDirector Community Development Services
Women’s Services are encourging more local women to obtain a Government Blue Card to allow them to work safely with children, so as to volunteer to help at the Shelter. It is a good opportunity to acquire skills and experience that could lead into a career in Social Services or Child Care, both areas that will provide a lot of employment to local community members in coming years.
Please contact Margaret at the Council office on 07 4060 7144.
Phone: 07 4031 0155
Fax: 07 4031 5720
Address: 7 Anderson St , Manunda QLD 4870