Christine Plunkett is hoping to be a voice for change by being a good listener.
The retired registered nurse and Soroptimist International member is one of the faces behind The Haven, a new safety hub which officially opens today at Mount Gambier Library.
Operated by the Women’s Information Service, The Haven provides resources and warm referrals to specialist domestic and family violence supports to empower women’s decision-making around their safety and relationships.
Christine is one of about a dozen specially trained volunteers who staff the hub.
She first learned of the project three years ago while researching homelessness in women aged over 55 years.
“The people who were helping out were the listeners: the hairdressers, the nail technicians and the like,’’ Christine said.
“I recognised the need for somewhere for women to go to get the information they’d require if they were in crisis.’’
Drawing on her extensive experience in occupational health nursing, primary health care and local government, Christine was itching to be part of The Haven.
In just a few weeks, it has already started conversations around domestic violence within the community, she said.
“Spreading the word is as important as providing information to the women we meet,’’ Christine said.
“We are not the experts but we are a listening ear who have got the resources available to empower women to make informed decisions and choices.’’
People can telephone or visit in person for information about domestic and family violence including the red flags to look out for, housing and legal matters, drug and alcohol supports, family dispute resolution, multicultural resources and more.
The Haven volunteers were mentored by long-time women’s advocate and Safety Hub Project Officer Sonya Mezinec who was based at Centacare’s Limestone Coast Domestic Violence Service while the hub was set up.
Similar hubs have been located in Murray Bridge, Whyalla, Murray Bridge and other areas of greatest need determined through direct feedback from State Government domestic and family violence roundtables with sector and community participants.
“There is so much we can learn as a community, particularly around coercive control and psychological and financial abuse,’’ Sonya said.
“The more informed people are about those red flags in relationships, the better equipped they will be to help themselves and others.’’
*The Haven is open from 9am-4pm Monday to Friday at Mount Gambier Library, 6 Watson Tce, Mount Gambier.
From left, Vivii Jaffer, Libby Ditcham, Jenny Braddy, Leonie Dowdell, Kathy Griffen, Jenni Giles, Barb Munt, Christine Plunkett.