Our Story

After following the intense lobbying conducted by the Whitlam government during the early 1970s, Elsie Refuge in the inner Sydney suburb of Glebe was anointed as the first funded refuge in Australia in the year 1974. The services work its way to addressing the absence of any alternative options for women during that time by giving a safe choice for women and children who are trying to get away from domestic violence. This refuge became a precursor to the 55 women’s refuges that are currently operating as a member of the NSW Women’s Refuge Movement.

In addition to the feminist philosophy, the main focus is set on the early women’s refuges in the NSW was on the empowerment of women and children through a safe, protected environment. Mutual support has been highlighted between the women which can be felt like an important component to their empowerment. It still continues to remain as the main principles in every women’s refuge. But after 25 years has passed, the refuges have somewhat evolved and is now capable of providing a wide range of services, outreach, support and advocacy, court assistance, assistance with legal and housing matters, information, referral, and training.

As soon as there is an increase in the number of popular of the refuges, it became obvious that a single approach was required to place domestic violence within the political agenda strongly. In February 1979, refuges gathered around to meet in Bathurst for the first State Wide Conference.

After several years have passed, the structure of the NSW Women’s Refuge Movement gained some growth so that as far as possible, all refuges can get the chance to become involved with the lobbying for change and policy development. Based on the similar representation in the decision-making process and policy development, the NSW Women’s Refuge Movement has been utilized as the voice of everyone but still, a minimal number of refuges for women and children who wants to get away from domestic violence in NSW.