Today is the last day that feminists run the Sydney domestic violence shelter “Elsie”, Australia’s first domestic violence shelter for women and children fleeing male violence. Elsie had its 40th anniversay earlier this year.
Back in 1974, the only place abused women and children could find temporary shelter was at a Salvation Army facility, which provided a bed for the night but banned traumatised families from residing there during the day, and provided no health, legal or social services. Most women ended up returning to their violent partners.
Feminist Anne Summers was then a 29-year-old post-graduate student at Sydney University when she saw a documentary based on Erin Pizzey’s Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear, about domestic abuse in England. As a result, after a two-day Women’s Commission Conference, plans were made to start a refuge in Sydney.
From there, a gradual development of feminist-run refuges were implemented…
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