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A game changing Centre for Women and Children

Ruah Community Services has announced major plans for a new specialised centre for women and children escaping family and domestic violence.

The seven-story, $20 million Ruah Centre for Women and Children will be the first of its kind in WA – a safe, purpose-built centre of healing and recovery for women and children – and built on the site already owned by Ruah in Shenton Street, Northbridge.

Ruah CEO, Debra Zanella, explained the driver behind the project, saying “Western Australia has one of the worst rates of family violence related assaults in the country, and there is a critical shortage of safe, secure accommodation for women and children escaping violence.

“There is currently nowhere in Perth that combines accommodation with the kind of comprehensive support we will be providing,” she added. “We believe all women and children experiencing trauma from abuse deserve a place where they can be safe, and where their total needs can be met.”

The Ruah Centre for Women and Children will provide exactly that, with short-term accommodation and a comprehensive range of integrated services made possible by a new partnership with Womens Health and Family Services.

Those services will include physical and mental health support, a range of counselling services, help in addressing alcohol and other drug issues, legal services and full support to navigate the courts system including representation in courts and tribunals, help in preparing for employment, and life skills education.

“This new Centre will be a place where women and children can create a new and much brighter future,” Debra Zanella said. “Importantly, it will also be a place where we build sector capacity through collaborations and research, and where we also work to shift community attitudes that allow family violence to continue.”

For Azelene Williams, who experienced abuse from her teenage years, this Centre would have been a game-changer.  Azelene is now a qualified counsellor and one of the passionate Ruah My Story My Time lived experience advocates who are being consulted on the detailed design and operations of the Centre.

“I think it’s a huge game changer. I don’t know of a place that is going to do what the Centre is going to do.  And when I think about it, I get a warmth in my heart, and I get a smile on my face because I know this is going to make a huge difference.”

The women and children who will live in, and seek support in the Centre have been front of mind for the team of talented architects at Architectus who have also ensured it fits well within the Northbridge context.

The design underpins the delivery of holistic, integrated services designed to hasten healing and recovery, improving the wellbeing of everyone who uses the building and the support that Ruah, its sector partners and others deliver within it.

Ruah projects the new Centre for Women and Children will accommodate more than 300 women and children every year.