By Corrine Baraclough
“It’s become the elephant in the room and its time to get this men’s shelter project underway,” Inverell Shire Councillor Paul King tells me. “We need an emergency accommodation centre for men and I intend to push to make this happen.”
These are upbeat words from a man with experience, a vision and focus.
King, a former Linking Together Centre community leader and publican, has called for the council to support his call for interested people to come together and pool resources. He got 100 per cent of their support.
“As a former publican, I do have a fair bit of knowledge about violence,” he says. “I don’t think people like to believe that men actually have violence committed against them. Society’s leaned the other way; it’s not a balanced conversation. Many want to believe that if there’s violence committed it’s male towards a female, but that isn’t the case at all.”
Key stakeholders in the Inverell area are invited to meet and formulate a plan. Interested people, groups, agencies, service clubs, investors, government and non government groups are all encouraged to put their hand up to help create a men’s shelter.
The council’s general manager Paul Henry suggested a two-meeting approach, which has been agreed.
“This is community driven and I believe if we get the right mix of passionate people on board, we can make this successful,” King says. “Who knows, if we get this right, we could even establish a model of men’s shelter’s that can be rolled out across Australia. There are a lot of men who find themselves in unfortunate situations. They have no money, not even enough for a motel. They need emergency accommodation where they can get a bed for a night or two before they can get other help.”
The next meeting is planned to focus on mapping out a plan of action.
“This is substance related and it’s relationship breakdown related,” he says. “Unfortunately, once you start to tear the family unit apart there is often violence and that can escalate.
That’s just the way society is. If we face any negativity, I don’t care. I won’t let that stop us. I care about the men who are having to sleep on a park bench or under a bridges. Men who may not have a friend left in the world. Disadvantaged people need a champion. It’s time for us to step up, as a community.”