The NSW Government funds will be used to establish a design for the centre, which is set to provide a range of free mental health, legal and social support services for women and children affected by family and domestic violence.
On Monday, the centre’s general manager Sally Stevenson and Ms Watson announced they had been successful in securing $50,000 from NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.
“The time for vigils and rallies against domestic and family violence is over,” Ms Watson said. “It’s time for action now and this is a step in the right direction.
“In the electorate of Shellharbour there is a high incidence of domestic violence – with the Warilla health centre seeing more than 1500 women a year.
“So it’s important as a community we wrap ourselves around these women and children, and protect them.
“And it’s not just women and children in the Illawarra that will benefit – this centre will provide a model that can be replicated right across the country.”
Ms Stevenson said the initial funding would help provide a business case for the centre, which was expected to then cost $10 million to build and run for the first three years.
“We will now work with women with lived experience and other key stakeholders such as clinicians, frontline services and policy advisors and researchers on the design,” she said.
“We want to ensure we put into place best practice and evidence based services that most appropriately respond to the needs of women who have experienced violence.”
UNSW School of Public Health researcher Dr Patricia Cullen will lead a team on the design project.
“We will be working on this project over the next 12 months in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, as well as researchers from the University of Wollongong’s Ngarruwan Ngadju Research Centre,” Dr Cullen said.
“We are so pleased the NSW Government has committed to this initial funding to pave the way for this centre, which will have a real impact on domestic and family violence.”
The Mercury is supporting the campaign to establish the Illawarra Women’s Trauma Recovery Centre with its Road to Recovery series which launched on Saturday.
The series will share the stories of Illawarra women with lived experience of domestic and family violence.
Along with the women’s health centre, the Mercury will present an exhibition of these survivors by award-winning photographer Sylvia Liber at Wollongong Art Gallery in the coming weeks.
For support call Lifeline on 13 11 14; or call the women’s health centre on 4255 6800.
Funds welcomed: UNSW’s Dr Patricia Cullen, Shellharbour MP Anna Watson and Women’s Health Centre’s Sally Stevenson. Picture: Sylvia Liber