Executive Officer awarded lifetime achievement award



 Kempsey Families Inc. are very proud to announce our current Executive Officer June Wilson has been awarded a lifetime achievement award at the University Technology of Sydney (UTS) Elsie Conference held on March 15-16th, 2024.

The Elsie Conference brought together refuge and shelter workers, advocates and organisations, researchers and public policymakers and anyone interested in reducing domestic violence. The conference aims to provide a national platform for attendees to celebrate the past and discuss emerging challenges.

The conference celebrated the history and achievements of the women’s refuge/shelter movement and honoured the work of the thousands of women who have worked in women’s refuges and shelters for the past half-century with the inaugural Elsie Awards.

On 16 March 1974: a group of Sydney feminists broke into two adjoining vacant houses, ‘Elsie’ and ’Minnie’, at 73 and 75 Westmoreland Street on the Glebe Estate in Sydney.

​Once inside, they changed the locks to establish residency and claimed squatter’s rights.

The group was led by Dr Anne Summers AO with Jennifer Dakers, Carole Baker, Margaret Power, Lina Clayton and Bessie Guthrie. Dozens of women joined them that day to break into the houses and start the massive clean up needed to make them ready to accommodate women and children. That day, without knowing it, they had started a movement that would help save the lives of thousands of women and children across Australia.

Elsie Women’s Refuge was the very first of what would grow to more than 800 refuges over the next half-century.

June Wilson was one of fifty women across Australia who were recognised for their significant contribution to the refuge movement, and ongoing efforts to keep women and children safe. June was recognised particularly for her work with the Kempsey Women’s refuge.

June Wilson was a vocal representative of the women’s refuge movement, and she was heavily involved in distance-based support to the local Kempsey refuge to remain open and functional while undergoing significant structural reconfiguration.

June was ultimately successful in gaining the manager role at Kempsey Women’s refuge in 2010. June relocated to the community to bring the service back fully online, operational, and integrated into the community.

Over time the service gained momentum, credibility and employed highly skilled women and became involved in supporting community events, reinvigorating the local Domestic Violence Monitoring Committee, Lovebites sessions in local high schools and providing support options through group sessions for children under 12 impacted by Domestic Violence.

Sadly, due to the ‘Going Home, Staying Home Reforms’ that swept NSW in August 2014, many refuges and staff were absorbed by other providers in a questionable tender process. The Kempsey women’s refuge was forced to undergo significant operational changes which resulted in a strong departure from the successful model that had been developed over many years.

At the recent Elsies Conference in March, participants called on Government through Anne Summers AO, to overturn the devastating impacts of the 2014 reforms that are still felt in communities today.

See: https://www.elsieconference.com.au


…. Ends –

Media Contact: June Wilson 6563 1588

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence help can be found via.

  • 1880RESPECT or 1800 737 732
  • NSW DV Hotline- 1800 65 64 63
  • Men’s Referral Service- 1300 766 4912
  • 1800 FULLSTOP or 1800385 578

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Registered Charity

We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC)

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We are funded by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice

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Our Main Office Location
21 Verge Street, Kempsey

Phone: (02) 6563 1588