Thursday, 22 June 2023
Reception to thank volunteers and supporters of Catherine House
I am delighted, as patron, to welcome you to Government House to thank the volunteers, supporters and donors who are at the heart of the Catherine House family.
I do so in the 35th anniversary year of Catherine House, a significant milestone by any measure, and one which enables us to reflect on 35 years of providing a vital service to women experiencing homelessness.
Thirty-five years of providing hope, of providing care, of providing dignity in a safe environment.
The support and generosity of spirit of those here tonight, ensures the vital work of Catherine House can continue, and I thank you for your commitment.
Catherine House, was the first of its kind and still continues to be the only homelessness and recovery service for women in South Australia.
Starting with just 12 rooms in 1988, the service has grown to accommodate up to 54 women at any given time; a time when women are at their most vulnerable.
It takes courage to reach out and seek help. Women may be fleeing violence, battling poverty, or tackling the insecurity of the housing and rental market.
The statistics tell a concerning story.
Since we last met, times have become tougher, and it is of concern that across Australia increasing numbers of women are experiencing homelessness.
Catherine House reports that lack of affordable housing and rental availability is a key driver in the increase of women contacting them, accounting for 45% of contacts in 2022.
The largest increase in homelessness for women is those aged 35-45 and girls under 18.
And, tragically, domestic and family violence continues to be the leading cause of homelessness across Australia.
As patron, I am proud that Catherine House is rising to the challenge to combat this in whatever way it can, against the background of increased demand and complexity of individual situations.
However, when women walk through the front door at their lowest ebb, they will enter a different world.
From my recent visit to Catherine House, when I went through the door in the non-descript wall, I felt welcomed, not just as your patron.
I suspect that every woman who enters will equally feel welcomed. They will be treated with respect, they will be supported, and they will be given hope.
Undoubtedly, Catherine House has been creative with the use of the site as it has grown over the past 35 years - providing a space that is peaceful and restorative - the courtyards to reflect and meet others, the kitchens to make your own meals or eat and talk with others and find strength in sharing stories.
But Catherine House is much more than a building, it is the people within who matter.
I thank the staff and volunteers for your compassion in supporting the mission of Catherine House.
To the supporters, thank you for choosing Catherine House for your philanthropy.
Lastly, I congratulate the award winners we are recognising tonight.
Your contributions are varied, but within each is a heartfelt commitment to supporting women experiencing homelessness.
To all here today, thank you for your role in enabling women to rediscover their voice, learn to make decisions in their own interest, and, importantly, make plans for their future.