Who We Are
Northern Rivers Women and Children’s Services Inc is a community based organisation that has been working in the area of family and domestic violence dating back over 25 years.

Currently Northern Rivers Women and Children’s Services Inc auspices the following project:

Herstory

Northern River’s Women’s and Children’s Services operated the Lismore Women’s & Children’s Refuge until November 2014 when On Track Community Services won the tender for this service.

The Lismore Women and Children’s Refuge was formally known as the Richmond Women's Emergency Centre and was officially opened on 9th June, 1979 by Mrs. Jill Wran. The Richmond Women's Emergency Centre evolved from a meeting of Womanspeak at the Lismore Community Health Centre, following discussion of a survey of domestic assault carried out in the area in 1975 by two social work students. The meeting was called on 23 July 1977 and from the twelve women who attended, members were delegated to investigate the "problem of Women in Crisis" in particular areas.

By May 1978, the Richmond Women's Emergency Centre had secured $16,460 from state and federal governments for operational costs, and had rented a house at 16 Victoria St, Lismore to use as an emergency accommodation and referral centre.

In October 1979, extra federal funds were made available nation-wide for the employment of two part-time childcare workers, after a study revealed the critical need for organized child care in women's refuges.

In September 1980, Lismore City Council supported a move to relocate the 'secondary centre" into the former South Lismore police station in Casino Street. This house later became an 'exit house' for out-going families requiring further short-term accommodation. Later that year, a capital grant of $50,000 made by the then Department of Youth and Community Services enabled members of the Management Committee to begin looking for a house to purchase.

In October 1981, the Richmond Women’s Emergency Centre became a company under corporation law and the name they chose was Lismore Women’s Refuge Ltd. They then negotiated the purchase of a house in Lismore to establish a permanent refuge. The council received 17 objections and a petition of 23 signatures voicing opposition to the refuge relocation. This did not deter the Committee from continuing with negotiations.

In 1989, an additional property was purchased by Department of Housing and a contract entered into with the Department as co-owners with Lismore Women's and Children's Refuge.

The Lismore Women’s Refuge was required to become incorporated as an association (as were all community-based organizations) so in April 1992, it became incorporated as Lismore Women's and Children's Refuge Inc.

In 1999 the Collective commissioned, in conjunction with DOCS, a review of the refuge structure and assessment of service delivery. A major recommendation was to restructure as a Management Committee and employ a manager who would then oversee the implementation of a restructure. As a result, all staff positions were advertised and a new complement of staff began employment in January 2001.

In 2001, Lismore Women and Children’s Refuge Inc. was presented with the opportunity to tender for “Yingenah” (Lismore Aboriginal Women and Children’s Refuge). The Management Committee agreed to apply for the tender for Lismore Aboriginal Women and Children’s Refuge as they believed that they had:

As a part of the tendering process the Management Committee devised a restructuring process for the organisation to allow for expansion, and the culturally appropriate management of an indigenous service.

The restructure involved a new organisational arrangement to address issues of equality between services, which in turn needed a new organisational and management model. Numerous staff, management and community consultation meetings were held to establish an amended Articles of Association. The Management Committee also decided that this was an opportunity to make other structural changes.

After consultations with staff, it was decided that while the service wanted to maintain its core philosophies and aims, it wanted to expand its service delivery models and move away from just providing residential services. A ‘broader’ name was needed and Northern Rivers Women & Children’s Services (NORWACS) was chosen. The name change also allowed management to address marketing issues which had always been at odds with the confidentiality issues surrounding refuge services. The new name and structure bought further changes. The altered organisational structure put NORWACS in a unique position to provide uninterrupted service delivery, and management began increasing its emphasis on outreach and group work, with the aim of establishing a Women’s Resource Centre (which opened in 2009), to enhance service accessibility across the region. In 2006 the proposal of auspice for the Aboriginal Women’s and Children’s Refuge was indorsed by the Aboriginal Advisory Committee and the service became known as Bugalma Bihyn. In 2007 NORWACS became an incorporated body and the restructure was complete.

In April 2014 NORWACS amalgamated with Lismore District Women’s Health Service who had operated in the Lismore District since 1987 providing a holistic feminist health service. The amalgamation was seen as the strengthening of two feminist organisations both committed to the empowerment of women and the provision of effective service delivery. Lismore Women’s Resource Centre and Lismore Women’s Health Centre combined services to become Lismore Women’s Health & Resource Centre.