All Posts By

Alanah Fox

Lakes Members’ Charity Golf Day

By | Events
Thursday 4th Jul 2024
7 am – 4:15 pm AEST

Our mission for this special day is to host a successful event, raising crucial funds to support Mary’s House Services in aiding women and children escaping domestic and family violence during their most vulnerable times.

Day Plan

  • 7-8 am registration / light breakfast and course briefing
  • 8.15 am shot gun start
  • 18 holes
  • On course refreshments will be available
  • Club house lounge open to players on completion of golf for pre luncheon beverages and canapes.
  • Seated luncheon
  • Welcome
  • Guest speaker
  • Introduction to Mary’s House Services
  • Auction
  • Raffle drawn
  • Presentation of prizes
  • Afternoon close 4.15 pm

Please note that an event information guide will be sent out to all participants one week prior. On the day should extreme weather conditions be forecasted the event will be cancelled – please check the Mary’s House Services social pages for updates.

All tickets exclude club / buggy / cart hire. These are available for you to hire directly from The Lakes Pro Shop.
The Club has:

  • A fleet of 30 modern electric motorised golf carts equipped with GPS.
  • A fleet of 10 battery powered buggies.
  • A selection of hire clubs including premium men’s and ladies sets.
  • A range of golf shoes of all sizes.

Understanding the warning signs of gendered abuse could save lives

By | Domestic & Family Violence

Every day in Australia up to 10 women will be hospitalised from an attack by an abusive partner or family member. And on average at least one woman will be killed each week. Every fortnight a child will die in a domestic or family violence incident.

The crime of domestic violence does not recognise postcodes. It can happen anywhere and to anyone, but while 9 in 10 people agree it is a problem, less than half think it is a problem in their suburb. Unfortunately, this blinkered attitude can make empowering women and children to escape and report domestic and family violence situations so much harder.

Part of the issue is that men who commit acts of domestic and family violence almost always do it in secret and behind closed doors, so to their colleagues, friends and even family they might seem normal.

A recent example was the tragic case of sports assistant Lilie James, who was killed by her ex-partner, Paul Thijssen. The Principal of St. Andrew’s Cathedral School said the murder was incongruent to everything they had believed about Thijssen, who was a former pupil and sports coach at the school. Thiijssen’s former Principal of Dr John Collier, went further and described the killer as ‘an absolute delight.’

Perpetrators of domestic and family violence hide in plain sight, which is why sometimes even their victims don’t understand that what is happening to them is abuse.

Our specialist social workers at Mary’s House Services often support women to reframe their understanding of domestic and family violence and empower them to choose a safe pathway to escape. Our clients have included women in their 60s and 70s, who have suffered decades of abuse before turning to us for help.  After being counselled on the dynamics of intimate partner violence, many of these women have chosen to escape the cycle of abuse and are now recovering from the traumatic relationship.

One of the aims of the 16 Days of Activism, launched by the United Nations on November 25 to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls, is to highlight the warning signs of an abusive relationship. says that often the red flags are swept under the carpet, ignored or wrongly explained. An abuser might claim their behaviour is a sign of love or concern and a victim-survivor might then change their own behaviour to avoid conflict.

Typical red flags include the abuser making constant messaging and calls, being jealous and possessive, isolating and controlling who the partner sees, criticising and making them feel insecure, blowing things out of proportion, blaming others and using physical force or intimidating behaviour during an argument.

Women and girls in certain groups, such as those living with disability, older and First Nations women, and adolescent girls, often face greater difficulty in having their voices heard.

According to recent research by Dr Carmel Hobbs at the University of Tasmania, although one in three teens aged 18-19 report experiencing abuse, they are often overlooked when it comes to accessing support. They are also more likely to struggle to realise certain behaviours are abusive. Red flags highlighted by Dr Hobbs included love bombing, such as showering a partner with gifts and grand gestures and using technology to monitor where a partner is or turning up unannounced. The behaviour can escalate with jealousy and isolation, controlling behaviour such as telling them how to dress and insults passed off as jokes.

Another issue with working to prevent abuse of women and girls is that perpetrators shame women into thinking they are the problem, which means victim-survivors often don’t seek help. A report by Equity Economics, commissioned by the NSW Council of Social Services found that 60% of domestic violence victims don’t go to the police.

This is particularly true when abuse involves non-violent forms of coercive control, including manipulation, isolation, gaslighting and financial abuse. Often in these situations victims worry that they won’t be believed.

Which is why initiatives like the 16 Days of Activism are so important. The domestic and family violence sector wants all Australians to know that violence against women and children is a problem for every community and that we can all play a part in challenging discriminatory attitudes that perpetuate, rationalise and normalise violence. It is preventable. And domestic and family violence can happen anywhere to anyone.

Photo credit Marco Bianchetti, Unsplash

Jokes about domestic violence do harm

By | Domestic & Family Violence

Why is it that racist and homophobic jokes are no longer tolerated, but humour that demeans women and makes light of violence is normalised?

A real estate agent in regional NSW was criticised recently for advertising a house with a quip about the property’s large back yard having, ‘plenty of space to bury a body.’

ABC Property listing agent Averill Berryman apologised and removed the listing, but told online news site, Yahoo! that they had received a lot of ‘humorous feedback’ from the listing and that ‘no harm was intended.’

A poll by the news site revealed 42% of its viewers agreed with Berryman and believed the joke was just a bit of harmless fun.

Misogynist humour is still dished out regularly by some of the world’s best-known comedians. Most recently Tik Tok comedian Matt Rife, who has a following of more than 18.2 million, started his recent Netflix comedy special with a joke about a waitress with a black eye, saying: “…if she could cook, she wouldn’t have that black eye”. Despite a torrent of backlash, he has refused to apologise.

The UK’s Jimmy Carr is infamous for his horrific gag about gang rape, the US’s Bill Burr joked about popstar Rihanna being bashed by her then boyfriend Chris Brown, Russell is renowned for his extreme sexist banter, that includes rape one-liners.

The regional property agent’s misguided attempt at humour may seem inconsequential in comparison, but any joke that minimises abhorrent behaviour, is not just unfunny, it is also harmful.

The statistics should be sobering enough.

Ten women are hospitalised every day following abuse from a partner, on average at least one woman is killed every week and one child every fortnight in domestic or family violence incidents. In NSW the police respond to about 400 calls every single day and more than 40% of their time is spent responding to domestic and family incidents.

There are two major issues with jokes about domestic and family violence; firstly, they can traumatise survivors and secondly, they normalise abuse.

Survivors of domestic violence often feel shame and making light of something, particularly in a public forum can be a trauma trigger for those victims, which can then exacerbate the symptoms of PTSD.

Berryman explained that ‘there was definitely no intention to incite any kind of domestic violence.’

Of course, most people viewing the listing are not violent and no amount of joking will make them consider committing acts of domestic and family violence. But by making humorous comments about the joke, they vindicate the minority who are violent, because when those men see people (men and women) laughing at jokes about domestic violence it reassures them that their behaviour is okay and normal.

The UK’s Ricky Gervais, who has been slammed for making jokes in the past about raping old women and molesting small children, has been very vocal about his right to free speech and the cancel culture ruining comedy.

Gervais argues that his audiences are not stupid, they understand irony and when they laugh at something considered taboo it is because they know it is wrong. Gervais is naive. The only people who think all men are violent are violent men and when they see other men laughing at gender violence jokes it reassures them that they are normal, that violence against women is nothing unusual.

And I can assure readers that the strong and compassionate women I work with in the domestic and family violence sector, including my colleagues at Mary’s House Services are not amused or entertained by jokes that are about people being killed, abused or disrespected.

One of the key themes of this year’s 16 days of activism, organised by the United Nations – calling for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls – is understanding the importance of respect and that we all have a part to play in ending the attitudes that perpetuate, rationalise and normalise violence against women and children.

To make the world a safer place for women and children we must change the behaviour of the perpetrators of gender violence. By standing up and calling out inappropriate humour you are making violent men feel uncomfortable about their choices and a man who fears disapproval, particularly from his friends, is a man who may take the first step towards changing his behaviour.

Photo credit Julien Dumas, Unsplash

The horrific choice between poverty and abuse

By | Domestic & Family Violence

Women and their children are being forced to go back to violent partners because they can’t find a home or afford to feed themselves and their children.

In a wealthy country like Australia, this is unacceptable.

As part of the 16 Days of Activism organised by the United Nations to help prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls, Mary’s House Services is calling for Federal and State Governments to increase resources and enhance processes and policy to improve the economic status of women and financially empower survivors of domestic and family violence.

Financial hardship and homelessness are two of the toughest issues facing survivors of domestic violence.

According to NSW Minister for Women’s Safety and Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Jodie Harrison, up to 56,000 women across Australia are homeless every night and two thirds of them are without shelter because of domestic and family violence.

Last year more than 100,000 victim-survivors of domestic and family violence sought help from a homelessness service, but because of a lack of refuges and affordable housing, 3 in 4 of them were turned away. A shocking 8000 women ended up having to return to their abusive partners.

Earlier this year a senate inquiry found that Australia’s worsening rental crisis was only exacerbating the problem. Not only are survivors of violence often discriminated against by landlords, but they also struggle to afford the limited rental accommodation that is available.

The wait list in Sydney for social housing averages 15 to 20 years and while the NSW Government has taken some action recently, by building more refuges and affordable homes and offering survivors some additional rent subsidies, much more is urgently needed.

There also needs to be an improvement in post-separation property settlement processes because too often perpetrators deliberately cause delays in court procedures, arguing they are pursuing their legal rights, but in fact are simply continuing the abuse against their ex-partners.

One in six Australian women experience economic abuse by a partner. Abusers will do everything from stopping access to money to putting all assets in their name while putting all debt and bills in the woman’s name. Some will even use online banking systems to send abusive messages to their ex-partners.

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has reported that the economic difficulties that arise from an abusive relationship create hardship for women for years after they separate from a violent partner.

In a survey they found that women affected by violence were much likely to struggle with debt and paying bills. They were much more likely to need help from welfare agencies and even go without food to survive.

The impact of domestic and family violence and finding solutions is the responsibility of the whole community. At Mary’s House Services we run financial and legal clinics – one of the common issues we see is a lack of understanding among policy-makers and organisations, such as banks, courts and government services about the hurdles survivors of domestic violence face. There have been some great initiatives from some of the bigger banks recently, but often institutions don’t anticipate how far a perpetrator will go to exact post-separation financial revenge on a woman.

Child support is also often a way for an ex-partner to continue their economic abuse, by delaying or reducing payments. Often women are in too much fear of the perpetrator to do anything about chasing payments and unfortunately when perpetrators get away without paying there is no substitute payment from government to meet the shortfall.

Survivors of domestic and family violence also need more workplace-related support and more scaffolding to help them find and maintain employment, to gain or regain economic independence.

Research by ANROWS found that survivors who had good, well paid jobs were much more likely to stay out of family violence situations, not just because they have more financial stability and better housing choices, but also because employment builds their self-confidence and self-value.

Our specialist social workers at Mary’s House Services will tell you that there is no greater joy than watching a woman grow in confidence after separation from an abusive relationship.  A couple of weeks ago, I received this joyful note in an email from one of our social workers: “ I received some good news today. A previous client was offered a job! She was not allowed to find employment while she was with her previous partner as her ‘role’ was to look after the children. I believe she hasn’t worked for over 12 years,” The client has children and receives very little financial support from their father, the perpetrator of abuse.

Helping survivors move from Mary’s House refuge into a safe and affordable home, get a job, enrol their kids in the local school and become part of the local community. This is part of why we do the work we do.

We could do so much more, with more support. Community support – financial, in kind, through encouragement and advocacy – means everything to me and my colleagues in the sector. I encourage you to support the 16 Days of Activism by making a gift to an organisation like ours or another you know of in this space – and please lobby your MPs for more support to save lives and give hope to the thousands of women and children impacted every day by domestic and family violence in this country.

To read more detail about how survivors of domestic and family violence are being forced into policy-induced poverty, I highly recommend this piece by Jess Hill in The Monthly.

Photo credit; Katt Yukawa, Unsplash

Preparing for the 2023 Mary’s House Walk

By | Events



The Mary’s House Walk is this coming weekend! If you have registered already, you will have received the below information, however, in case you’ve mislaid it, please see a recap of some of the important information you need to know in preparation for the walk.

We also want to share with you how grateful we are you are joining us to say ‘no ‘to domestic and family violence in our community.




Sunday 29th October 2023


Check-in is between 8:30am -9:00am


St Leonards Park, North Sydney.

Meet – Miller Street side of the park, at the open grass area in front of the stage.

Raffle Tickets

We are excited to be holding a raffle on the morning of the walk to help with our fundraising efforts. You will be able to purchase tickets from our team.

1 ticket for $10
3 tickets for $25

See our prizes below and thank you to these philanthropic organisations for their support and donation of these fabulous prizes.


There is ample metered and non-metered parking in the area around the park.


Please wear appropriate walking shoes on the day. Bring a hat and sunscreen for sun safety. Bring a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the morning. Insect repellent if you are bothered by them.


The walk starts and ends at St Leonards Park, North Sydney. It is a 10km easy grade walk through the streets of North Sydney, passing through Balls Point Reserve and enjoying the natural surroundings.

There will be Mary’s House Services marshals/crew wearing blue vests stationed throughout the walk to direct you to follow the correct path.


At the start, halfway point, and end of the walk, there will be members of the St Johns Ambulance providing First Aid.


There will be toilet amenities and water-refill stations at the halfway point at Balls Point Reserve our Mary’s House Services volunteer crew will know where these are, and always happy to help.


The Greens in North Sydney is accepting reservations for lunch after the Mary’s House Walk. They have a special counter offer of burger and fries for $20! We strongly recommend you book a table in advance if you are interested.

It’s not too late to register! Join us on Sunday 29 October  • 10km • North Sydney

Our annual walk is a fundraising event to support Mary’s House in our mission to aid women and their children escaping domestic and family violence.

Download the Route Map
Register & Donate Now


This is a significant day for Mary’s House Services, and we are excited to have you join us and be an integral part of a community who will not accept domestic and family violence.


We look forward to seeing you there!