Last year was one of the Dunedin women's refuge's
busiest. Reporter Elle Constantine tours one of its safe
The economy, stress, and the Christchurch earthquakes are
behind one of the busiest periods at Te Whare Pounamu Dunedin
Residential services manager Darlene Gore said 202 women and
children stayed at the refuge's safe houses last year.
Some stayed for just a couple of days, others for up to
For the month from December 18, 24 women and children stayed
in the safe houses. One woman and three children arrived on
"We would normally get half that over that four-week period,"
Miss Gore said.
While the majority of those staying visited family on
Christmas Day, for the others there were gift baskets donated
by Elim Church, and hams and turkeys from Ravensdown and
Fellow residential services worker Kerri Oliver said it was
"great to be able to put a collection together and take them
to the women".
The refuge's crisis line received 106 calls in December,
about 60 of them in the week between Christmas and New Year.
That was double the number it would usually get.
"Over the Christmas period, the crisis line was really busy,
with women wanting advice on where to go once they leave
They were basically doing the ground work over Christmas," Ms
While more women were seeking help due to the "It's Not OK"
campaign, there were other factors behind higher demand for
safe housing, such as people turning to alcohol and drugs, or
depression caused by stress from the recession.
"We are finding people just can't get on top of things," Miss
The refuge also found many clients were coming in after
moving from Christchurch.
The stress and uncertainty created by the earthquakes,
compounded by difficulties finding work, had erupted in
domestic violence for some families.
"The best thing to do is get some positive intervention in
there and connect them with the right agencies."
While 2011 was a busy year, the refuge does not expect the
situation to ease up.
"It has not slowed down. It's been steady since mid last year
and I'm guessing when the bills come in after Christmas and
school starts again, it is just going to get busier," Miss
Want to help?
Te Whare Pounamu Dunedin Women's Refuge has a list of items
it would like donated:
- Baby equipment, such as highchairs, prams, cots and
- Clothing, including underwear, for women and
- Household items to help women set up homes when they leave
the safe house.
- Grocery vouchers.
To donate, call the crisis line on (03) 477-1229.
How to get help
If you, or
someone you know, is a victim of domestic violence, contact
Te Whare Pounamu Dunedin Women's Refuge on the 24-hour crisis
line (03) 477-1229.
For more information visit www.womensrefuge.org.nz