News & Media

Local services for women escaping domestic violence – North Shore Mums’ article

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Domestic violence is a very real and prevalent issue facing our society with reported incidents doubling in NSW over the past 10 years. If you’re in a relationship where you are abused physically, sexually or mentally, there are many local services that can help you escape domestic violence.

North Shore Mums list what services are available to women and children impacted by domestic violence and abuse on Sydney’s North Shore, including Mary’s House refuge and Mary’s House Services’ Daisy Centre.

Emma’s* Journey

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Emma’s* story:

Emma came to Mary’s House Services with her son after enduring ongoing domestic violence and abuse from her husband. Mary’s House Services provided Emma and her son the support they needed to escape and rebuild their lives safely.

Emma wanted to share her story and highlight the support she received in the hope that more families can also access this help.

“I can’t imagine how my son and I would have arrived at our lives today without the care, time and expertise of the angels at Mary’s House and the Daisy Centre.

I was referred to Mary’s House a couple of years ago and had been in touch once or twice by phone when I unexpectedly had to flee the house. I was terrified and overwrought with keeping my son safe and away from our abuser. But my son was over 16, and being male complicated where we could go.

I was in so much terror. I was afraid to speak. When I did, I would shake, stutter and cry. Everything felt so strange, almost out of body. I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I had never been in a situation like this before, nor did I know anyone who had either.

I had no idea the people at Mary’s House would be the core of my new village, gently carrying me along in a piece of cotton wool through the process.

The case worker came with me when I had to go to see police, they would accompany my son, they would contact various key people involved in the case, provide direction and advice on how the process worked, helped me with trauma/DV family lawyers, came to court dates, would speak up on my behalf to the police when I couldn’t.

Once the ADVO was in place, case workers would call and check in on us, bring Christmas hampers, help me through the Victim’s Services process, listening to my panic and fear during the Federal Court action taken against me and offer some fantastic psycho educational courses to help in my recovery process.

At the course through The Daisy Centre, I met other women like me with their own stories and I learnt tools for life that have helped me understand what happened and how I can start to move on.

Sitting here writing this today almost three years later, I cannot believe how different mine and my son’s lives are today. I am still recovering from PTSD and anxiety, but I do not live in the daily terror of what felt like living with a shark in a swimming pool.

I often wonder how many tens of thousands of dollars my journey to freedom cost and feel concerned that it is often funding that prevents women like me (and my son) from being able to access life-saving and changing help.

I am so grateful to Mary’s House for having the opportunity to start again.”

*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

The Recent NSW Government Announcement on Increased Funding for Domestic Violence Services in NSW

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Monday 25 October


 The Recent NSW Government Announcement on Increased Funding for Domestic Violence Services in NSW

Along with all the other service providers and agencies that work in the Domestic Violence and Homelessness sector, Mary’s House Services welcomes the NSW Government’s announcement that more than $464 million will be spent over 4 years on tackling Domestic Violence, with specific focus on providing extra refuges and accommodation options to support women and children escaping abusive relationships.

What does this mean?

This funding is focused on new projects – specifically new refuges that are built using the “core and cluster” model, and on new community housing innovations. The aim for this to create 75 new refuges across the state, as well as additional social and affordable housing. This will go a long way towards addressing the dire shortage of crisis and affordable accommodation for women and children who are at risk of homelessness and are impacted by domestic violence and is a hugely positive step.

There is an emphasis on providing funding to services that support Aboriginal families, older women and young people and children. While some funding is available for Metro Sydney, the goal is for most of the funded projects to support communities in other areas of the state, specifically Western Sydney, Coffs Harbour and Wagga Wagga.

We understand that the funding is to commence on projects from July 2022 and will be spent over the following four years.

Implications for Mary’s House Services

While it is extremely unlikely that, as an existing service, located in the community of North Sydney, we would be the recipient of any of this funding, MHS welcomes the increased financial support in a sector that is under-funded and under-resourced, especially given the huge increase in demand for services that has been experienced in the last 12 months.

Mary’s House remains reliant on our generous donors for our ongoing operations and we welcome the addition of the new Refuges across the State.

Claire Barber


Mary’s House Services

Domestic Violence and Abuse Does Not Discriminate

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When we tell people that we provide support to women and children escaping domestic violence and abuse at Mary’s House Services, we are often met with the same response “I didn’t think that domestic abuse and violence happened in this area?”.

Research shows that family, domestic and sexual violence is a major health and welfare issue in Australia occurring across all socioeconomic and demographic groups, but predominantly affecting women and children. The impacts of family, domestic and sexual violence can be serious and long-lasting, affecting an individual’s health, wellbeing, education, relationships and housing outcomes. 3 in 10 assault hospitalisations for people aged 15 and over are due to family and domestic violence.

Today, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) released its crime statistics report for up to June 2021. It supports the increasing need for our services for people impacted by domestic violence and abuse in all areas.

Of relevance is the incidents of reported domestic abuse from our local LGAs in the last 12 months. Noting that these are only reported incidents and do not capture the prevalence of non-physical abuse, such as coercive control, financial, emotional, verbal and social abuse of which we see regularly.

LGA Offence Number of incidents July 2020 – June 2021


·       Domestic violence related physical assault.

·       Sexual assault.

·       Intimidation, stalking and harassment.


·       33

·       11

·       57


North Sydney

·       Domestic violence related physical assault.

·       Sexual assault.

·       Intimidation, stalking and harassment.


·       98

·       34

·       124


Northern Beaches

·       Domestic violence related physical assault.

·       Sexual assault.

·       Intimidation, stalking and harassment.


·       328

·       173

·       521




·       Domestic violence related physical assault.

·       Sexual assault.

·       Intimidation, stalking and harassment.


·       86

·       33

·       123

Every bit helps

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Mary’s House was established because the people of northern Sydney wanted to do something real to help women and children to escape from potentially fatal domestic violence. It is 100% community funded, and we’re appealing to our friends to keep supporting us to continue to make a difference.

We know times are tough, so we want to be sure that you know where the money goes.

Most of the cash donations support our caseworkers. People kindly ask, “how much do you need?” The answer to that is of course,  “how long is a piece of string”? We are already receiving more referrals than we can support and without more funding, women will be turned away. So the equation is simple, the more funding we can raise the more we can provide in additional case worker hours and the more women and children we can help.

Every single dollar that comes to Mary’s House counts in practical ways. In helping women set up a new future, there’s a whole raft of areas where your help makes a difference. Here are some examples…

$50 Essential Personal Items

When a family arrives at the refuge, they often have an immediate need for personal care items.  $50 can provide a complete pack of essential items to be given on arrival. It includes things like shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, hairbrush, handcream, moisturiser, etc

$100 Essential Travel

Not having access to a car means reliance on public transport to get to appointments with police, counsellors and other services.  $100 provides access to transport to access these services, as well as to take children to school

$500 Basic Clothing

It is not uncommon for a family to arrive with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing.  While some, good quality items are donated, being able to provide new basics like underwear, shoes, jeans, tops and jumpers/jackets for a woman and her children is essential.  A small starter of wardrobe items for a small family can be purchased for $500

$1,000 Baby Essentials

Any parent will know the cost of setting up for a new baby or a small infant.  $1,000 can provide all the essentials for mum to look after her little one.

These packs could include things like a cot, a baby monitor, baby clothes, nappies, baby formula, bottles, sterilisers, soothers, age appropriate toys

Home Set Up

$2,000 will set up bedrooms for a Mum and two children including a queen bed, queen mattress, 2 x single beds, 2 x single mattresses, linen for all beds

$5,000 can set up a whole new home with the basics for a kitchen, dining, living room and bedroom furniture and the household essentials for a new start

2020 was a difficult year for everyone, which is why we’re so very grateful to you all for your support and advocacy. In 2021, we hope to move ever-closer to our goal which is to say “we don’t accept domestic violence in our community” and to bring services to more women and their children than ever before. That’s thanks to you all.

If you want to find out more, or perhaps hold a fundraiser, simply fill in the form below and we’ll be in touch.

If you want to donate, simply follow this link…

    Mary’s House Update During the COVID-19 Event

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    At Mary’s House, we are mindful that the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the resulting economic crisis, will place enormous strain on vulnerable families. There will be many people in the community who are worried about their safety and that of their children. For those people who have experienced family violence, being confined in close quarters could place them at risk of further incidents. Protecting members of the community remains an essential service and people should not hesitate to contact the Police, who will continue to respond to calls for help from victims of domestic violence.

    Please see below link which provides information in respect of recent changes to law around Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders.

    In short, we predict that the Police will now apply for more provisional ADVOs and there will be an extended period (possibly up to 6 months) before these matters will need to be heard in Court. The family law courts are still open and the Court is conducting most matters by phone.

    There are also hotlines that provide advice for people with concerns about domestic violence, such as 1800 65 64 63 or 1800 RESPECT. A link to their website is below:

    For those families that have parenting orders, please see this important link to a recent media releases issued by the Family Court.

    There is an emphasis on parties being pragmatic about reaching temporary agreements regarding changes in arrangements that may need to be made.

    The release also emphasises the importance of children maintaining a meaningful relationship with both parents. Everyone’s circumstances are unique, but in the absence of an agreement, we would suggest that parents seek legal advice before making a decision not to comply with a Court Order.

    We extend our best wishes to you and your families with the hope that you remain healthy and safe.