Three of the original driving forces that established Warratah in the South West reunited on Friday in the midst of the federal election campaign and spoke to the Mail about their experiences getting the group started to help those who experience abuse seek help across the region.
Currently Waratah provides free, specialised intervention services for people who have experienced sexual assault, sexual abuse or family domestic violence.
Lorri Mackness was living in Brunswick during the 1970s and through peer and professional counselling, began recovering memories of sexual abuse and domestic violence within her birth family.
Ms Mackness said at the time the only place she could get the help she needed was in Perth.
“It was hard to access services I needed and this was at a time when police did not necessarily take issues of domestic violence very seriously,” she said.
“Often these things were swept under the carpet.”
In 1979, Ms Mackness had a very serious car accident which saw her spend 12 months in Bunbury Regional Hospital and left her confined to a wheelchair. During this time she became friends with Greens candidate for Forrest Jill Reading and her mother Margaret Peters.
Ms Mackness’ councillor in Perth told her anger was a wonderful energy to drive change and together with Jill and Margaret, the three got a group of ladies in the South West together who were keen to make a difference.
The group offered their support to Ms Mackness and started a committee to tackle domestic violence.
Shortly after they combined with a similar group working to stop sexual assaults and within two years the Warratah refuge was opened.
“We have always believed all the services a person being abused may need to access should be in the one place and Waratah has become a one-stop location for support agencies,” Mrs Peters said.
“While its never good that abuse is happening, it is important to see those who need assistance having a local place they can get the help they deserve.”
For more information visit waratah.asn.au and to access a service through Waratah freecall 1800 017 303.
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