Bella’s Sanctuary: a safe place to rebuild & heal after violence
Bella’s Sanctuary is the result of the corporate community, local businesses and the not for profit sector collaborating to help change the future of Queenslanders who have escaped domestic and family violence.
The residence was created because of a lack of affordable housing, as well as a void of medium-term accommodation for survivors to reside in after leaving crisis accommodation (a shelter or refuge). This gap was reinforcing the belief in survivors that there are only two housing options for those leaving a shelter/refuge and they are either returning to the abuser or homelessness.
DVConnect was continuously being told this by survivors. The impact was reiterated in The Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Strategy 2016-2026 which stated that domestic and family violence is identified as the major cause of homelessness and housing instability and has significant long-term impacts on the health and well-being of victims.
The purpose of Bella’s Sanctuary is to provide a safe haven for Queensland women and children to reside in for up to 12 months, after they have left a shelter/refuge to give them time to rebuild their lives and heal from trauma.
The idea to create Bella’s Sanctuary came from Halcyon executive Marie Cone, who eventually became the project lead. In 2014 Marie found herself continually reading about the acute shortage of accommodation for women and children affected by domestic and family violence. She knew something had to be done and thought that connecting the construction industry and building industry, along with a charity could be the way to achieve it. Marie took the idea to her employer Halcyon and partner Mirvac Residential, who love it. Together, they presented the concept to construct a purpose-built medium-term accommodation residence located on the Gold Coast to DVConnect.
The build of Bella’s Sanctuary took 18 months. and was led by Halcyon. Mirvac Residential donated the land and 90 generous Queensland building suppliers donated their time, materials and labour. The result was a purpose-built, 5 unit, $1.67 million dollar residence located on the Gold Coast.
Funded 100% by the corporate sector, then donated to the not-for-profit sector, specifically DVConnect, who now own and manage the operation of Bella’s Sanctuary.
Six years after Marie Cone had an idea, Bella’s Sanctuary was officially opened by the Minister for Domestic and Family Violence, the Honourable Di Farmer MP in August 2019.
The residence has 5 units which includes 2 one-bedroom units, including a unit for disabled, 2 two-bedroom units and 1 three bedroom unit, each with their own kitchenette, living area and courtyard. It also has a communal kitchen, living room, laundry, play area, garage, administration office, 24/7 security camera system, an alarm, as well as keypad entry on all doors and gates.
One year after the first resident moved in Bella’s Sanctuary has been called home by 8 women and 6 children. These Queenslanders stayed between 3 months and 9 months before moving into their own accommodation. Staying at Bella’s Sanctuary has provided them with a financially viable and supportive stepping stone that cements rental history and enables access to local supports, safety, local schools, and independence through provision of a stable home environment.
Read the top 12 facts about Bella’s Sanctuary
Donate here to help DVConnect operate Bella’s Sanctuary. (No government funding is received so donations are relied upon).
Watch the creators of Bella’s Sanctuary talking about it’s significance below.
- 2019 Winner of the Excellence in Social Responsibility, The Urban Developer Awards
- 2019 Winner of the Excellence in Industry Leadership, The Urban Developer Awards
- 2019 Development of the Year, Social Infrastructure (Finalist) The Urban Developer Awards
- 2019 Winner of the Business Category through developer Halcyon at the Gold Coast City Council Safer Suburbs Award
- 2019 Winner of the Creating Change Award, Gold Coast Women In Business Awards, Marie Cone of Halcyon who originally created the idea of Bella’s Sanctuary
- 2020 Halcyon was inducted into the Queensland Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Honour Roll for their significant role in building Bella’s Sanctuary.
- 2020 Mirvac Residential was inducted into the Queensland Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Honour Roll for their role in building Bella’s Sanctuary.
- 2020 Marie Cone was inducted into the Queensland Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Honour Roll for her outstanding contribution to helping Queensland women and children who have experienced domestic and family violence.