CHRISTMAS came early for residents of the Hobart Women’s Shelter (HWS) when it hosted its annual women and children’s Christmas party at its Moonah office.
About 80 women and children attended the event, which featured a range of water sports, a traditional Australian barbecue and a visit from Santa, who added some magic and gifts to the occasion.
The event was organised with support from Edmund Rice Camps (ERC) Tasmania, which connected the shelter with a number of young male and female volunteers.
HWS community engagement officer Josie Young said this was the first time the shelter had welcomed young male volunteers into the program.
“Having young men who are kind, compassionate and deeply concerned about family violence and creating a safe environment for families is an essential part of creating a community in which violence against women and children is unheard of,” she said.
“These men and women gave up their time and provided practical assistance in running the event, while acting as positive role models for the young boys and girls who attended.”
ERC executive officer Andrew McMaster said the volunteers were part of a “bigger community framework.”
“With the joy of the occasion, one could have thought that we were on a big family day out until we remembered the day-to-day realities of the lives of these women and children who live in the shadow of domestic violence and who cannot live safely in their homes,” he said.
“In what was simply a case of pure presence, we turned up in the lives of others and came away deeply moved.”
Ms Young said the HWS was also thankful for the assistance of the other volunteers who collected and wrapped gifts, assisted Santa, cooked the barbecue dinner and demonstrated that community spirit is still “alive and well in our community.”
Caption: From left, Edmund Rice volunteers Alex, Liam and Hannah (last names withheld for privacy), with Santa (Tom Young) and Josie Young getting into the Christmas spirit at Hobart Women’s Shelter.