Galbaan House crisis accommodation is officially pet-friendly thanks to an initiative which has been three years in the making.
That means pets of women and children leaving domestic violence situations can now stay with their families at Port Macquarie's Galbaan House.
Liberty Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services' Safe Pets program was officially launched on Thursday (April 15).
The program received funding from the state government's Pets and Animal Welfare Support grant and Community Building Partnership program, the RSPCA NSW Safe Families Program and PETstock's charity foundation, PETstock Assist.
NSW Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said the threat of harm or harm to animals is often used by perpetrators as a form of coercion and control over their victims.
He said women are often reluctant to leave a dangerous home environment because they are worried about their companion animals.
"It it important when a woman chooses to leave a dangerous home environment, there is somewhere safe to go and somewhere safe for companion animals," Mr Speakman said.
Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams said: "Pets are much-loved members of their family and often the thought of having to leave them behind in a violent environment will inhibit victims escaping that violent relationship.
"We know very well it is critical you have to provide somewhere where pets can easily be accommodated as well."
Galbaan House is doing just that with pet-friendly accommodation for two dogs, two cats and smaller pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs. There is also a dog wash.
Liberty CEO Kelly Lamb said the program would enable more women and children to leave violence without worrying their pet might be harmed, while also increasing the wellbeing of families staying at Galbaan House.
The project has involved infrastructure including pet enclosures and fences.
Domestic violence specialists have completed training through the RSPCA NSW's Safe Families Framework.
The board of management has also supported the initiative by investing Liberty's funds from community donations towards the program.
"It has been really positive to be able to welcome women and children, and their pets," Mrs Lamb said.
"The joy that has brought the women who have stayed with us has made it all worthwhile."
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