Fifty percent of Balclutha’s police calls relate to family violence, but the closest safe house is an hour away in Gore.
Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan said Gore Women’s Refuge’s hard work did not go unnoticed in the town, but it was time the women of Clutha had a safe house.
“From New Zealand’s perspective, the need for women’s refuges and a safe place is so prevalent, and it’s not like the South is excluded from this,” Mr Cadogan said.
“We will always hold hands with the Gore Women’s Refuge – they do a magnificent job – but Clutha deserves to have at least one safe house,” he said.
Mr Cadogan said when a woman needed a safe house there were many conflicting factors, but the distance to the [Gore] safe house made it harder to access.
“She has to take herself out of her community to a new one and then there’s the snap decision about whether or not to take the kids, and what about school? Will there be social implications?
“There is also no reliable transport between here and Gore, so it’s not easy . . . there are plenty of logistical issues, along with the stigma of leaving their community.
“In tandem with Gore Women’s Refuge, I think there should be a safe house opened here.
“The ladies of the community need the back up and the statistics prove it . . . do it once and do the right thing.”
Gore Women’s Refuge trust member Colleen Te Au said the staff and board members of Gore Women’s Refuge were working diligently toward addressing the needs in the Balclutha area.
” If the community needs it, they will make it happen,” Miss TeAu said.
She said Gore Women’s Refuge had limited funds for Balclutha.
“However, there is a ground swell of support . . . we have been actively seeking other funding avenues and lobbying the community,” she said.
Miss TeAu said the Balclutha community was backing the refuge, which was giving them an extra push.
“The local council and organisations have been instrumental in ensuring we have been able to open an office in Balclutha at St John’s site and provide advice, advocacy and support to women and children without them leaving their community.
“Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogen is a long-time supporter of the Women’s Refuge and we are delighted at his recent appointment to our board.
“His input will be invaluable to ensure Balclutha’s needs are continuing to be met.”