Specialist homelessness agency Yes Unlimited has announced a $3 million-plus redevelopment plan for Albury women's refuge Betty's Place.
The expansive project will transform the way accommodation and supports are provided to women and children escaping domestic violence in the Murrumbidgee region.
The plan would see the refuge move from an "outdated" communal model to a set-up offering self-contained units with on-site staff and supports in a multi-purpose building, according to Yes Unlimited client services manager Jon Park.
The 'Core and Cluster' model provides more appropriate crisis accommodation for women and children in trauma with the focus on maintaining the family unit and a "sense of home", Mr Park says.
"It will also increase our capacity to house more people in safety, privacy and with dignity," he adds.
In 2015 the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence recommended all communal refuges in the state be replaced with core and cluster models.
In October last year, the NSW Government announced a $484.3 million investment for housing and specialist supports for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence.
Yes Unlimited is in the throes of finalising a tender for part of this funding and is considering two potential options for the project - an extensive re-development of the existing site or establishing a purpose-built centre on a new site.
As part of the 'Making Betty's Better' campaign, a $1 million community fundraiser will invite residents and businesses to embrace the project and lend their voice to calls for an upgrade to the much-loved but ageing refuge.
The fundraiser will also help raise local awareness that domestic and family violence is "everyone's business", Yes Unlimited CEO Di Glover says.
In the past 12 months Yes Unlimited reports it had 258 women reach out for support for domestic and family violence.
Betty's Place currently has the capacity to accommodate up to five women and their children in the main building and a semi self-contained unit at the back of the property.
Owned by the Lands and Housing Corporation, the building was constructed in the 1930s and "has extremely high maintenance and utilities costs".
An October 2021 report, A Case for Change: Betty's Place, recommended YES Unlimited pursue the development of a core and cluster refuge in Albury "as a matter of urgency".
It noted women and children escaping domestic and family violence make up approximately half of the clients seeking support from specialist homelessness services.
THE GRIM REALITY
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