Refuge busy as ever in hard times

Darlene Gore
Darlene Gore
Last year was one of the Dunedin women's refuge's busiest. Reporter Elle Constantine tours one of its safe houses.

The economy, stress, and the Christchurch earthquakes are behind one of the busiest periods at Te Whare Pounamu Dunedin Women's Refuge.

Residential services manager Darlene Gore said 202 women and children stayed at the refuge's safe houses last year.

Kerri Oliver
Kerri Oliver
Some stayed for just a couple of days, others for up to six months.

For the month from December 18, 24 women and children stayed in the safe houses. One woman and three children arrived on Christmas Day.

"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 Veggie Boys.

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 their relationship.

They were basically doing the ground work over Christmas," Ms Oliver said.

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 Gore said.

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 Gore said.


Women's refuge
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 bassinets.
- Clothing, including underwear, for women and children.
- 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


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