Safe haven launched

Mount Gambier officially opened its first safety hub, ‘The Haven,’ on Friday, which will provide valuable services such as information, advice, support and referrals for men, women and children who are experiencing, or at risk of, family violence.

The Haven, open from 9am until 4pm Monday to Friday, is located at the Mount Gambier Library and is a safe, welcoming and discreet space for people seeking access to the range of services. Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink, who attended the launch, said the Mount Gambier site was the sixth safety hub in South Australia.

Each Haven is tailored to the needs of its community and they are an important step in reducing and preventing family violence. “Part of what we’re trying to do is move domestic violence upstream so that it does not get to that crisis end where people are in situations where it’s unsafe for them,” she said.

Ms Lensink said the Haven was very important for people who might not want to visit a service provider or those who do not realise they were experiencing domestic violence. “For people to be able to access a safe place where they can get that information and get some support and be connected to services is going to be absolutely critical,” she said.

The Haven was developed so regional residents could access the same services offered in metropolitan areas and is one of the measures and commitments in the South Australian Government’s Committed to Safety plan to combat family violence. Safety Hub Project Officer Sonya Mezinec played a crucial role in establishing the service in Mount Gambier and recruiting the Haven volunteer staff, who have undergone extensive training conducted by Women’s Information Service.

Community and Family Services Department Executive Director Anne-Marie Hayes said the Haven was a safe and easy place to access services. “I think it’s one of those things that will grow and grow,” she said. “Because once it becomes clear and we want to be inclusive, the range of services will be endless.”

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