Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Rod, and I as your patron, warmly welcome you to Government House to this reception to thank the supporters and volunteers of Catherine House.

It is a pleasure to meet you together as a community; one dedicated to providing shelter and support for women experiencing homelessness in South Australia.

I thank you for “being there” for so many women. It takes courage to flee domestic violence, overcome the trauma of relationship breakdown, battle the challenges of poverty and mental illness or tackle the insecurity of the housing and rental market.

For many women it is a time of great trauma, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem following the initial insecurity of simply not  knowing where to turn.

Founded by the Sisters of Mercy with just 12 rooms in 1988, Catherine House has now grown to providing accommodation for up to 54 women at any given time.

It was the first of its kind, and 34 years later Catherine House continues to be the only homelessness and recovery service for women.

There, women can not only begin their pathway of recovery from homelessness, but be treated with respect, care and dignity.

Importantly, by accessing support services, women can plan for their future in a safe environment.

By combining with Housing Choices South Australia early last year you recognised you could do so much more for women.

So much so that over the past year, 1,143 clients were provided with accommodation or a support service, just over 78,500 meals and snacks were provided across five programs, more than 550 activities, workshops and courses were delivered to 148 clients.

As well, 15 women received TAFE academic transcripts and 68 clients participated in accredited Adult Education Courses, demonstrating the need for Catherine House.

Naturally, Catherine House could not exist without the support of volunteers, donors and supporters.

They are the lifeblood of any organisation, and I thank you for your passion and commitment.

When I spoke at my Swearing-In as Governor I remarked that South Australians have a sense of community to be proud of, exemplified by a deeply rooted culture of volunteering.

Catherine House is exactly what I had in mind.

Friends.

While you would have been relieved to hear the announcement in April by the incoming State Government that it would restore funding to the Hutt Street Centre, Catherine House and St Vincent De Paul Society from 1 July, I know fund raising is a constant imperative.

The challenges are sobering:

  • Women now represent 44% of the homelessness community across Australia.
  • Women 55 and over are the fastest growing demographic of all people experiencing homelessness.

Yet behind these statistics is the story of people such as yourselves who care and are determined to effect change.

To the award winners, congratulations. Your contributions are varied, but are connected by your commitment to ensuring Catherine House can continue its vital work.

To all those who give the generous gift of their time, provide expert guidance, support fundraising, or put together care packs, I say thank you.

Through this work, you all contribute in your own way to Catherine House’s vision to end homelessness for every woman who bravely walks through its door.

Thank you all.