19 December 2023

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Catherine House Connections Newsletter – December 2023

Catherine House update

It’s my pleasure to update you on the outcomes and achievements of Catherine House in our 35th year of supporting women experiencing homelessness.

It cannot be overstated that 35 years of Catherine House would not be possible without your ongoing support. Your generosity allows us to continue providing safe accommodation and support services for South Australian women who are experiencing what is often the most difficult time in their lives.

In a very challenging year, Australians have endured 13 interest rate rises in the last 15 months, bringing interest rates to their highest level since 2011. In addition, there has been an unprecedented increase in the cost of living. With rental availability in South Australia at 0.3% – the lowest across the country – more and more women are losing their homes. South Australia is now the country’s second least affordable state for housing.

All this has contributed to a steep rise in demand for our services. In fact, the latest census revealed that women make up the majority of “newly homeless” across Australia, and women between the ages of 35-45 and girls under the age of 18 represent the fasting cohort of all people experiencing homelessness.

Sadly, we know that another element sitting behind these worsening statistics is increasing incidences of family violence and abuse.

It has been a particularly tough time for the team at Catherine House, with five South Australian women in a month (four in one week) losing their lives at the hands of men known to them. Five mothers, sisters, aunties, and friends – were taken from their families through acts of violence. At Catherine House, we will continue to advocate for women’s rights and ask you to join us in calling for action to put an end to these abhorrent attacks.

Despite what has been, at times, a heavy and uncertain year, Catherine House remains a place of hope for so many. Women who walk through our doors often recount the day they received the phone call informing them we have a place for them in our accommodation service. It is often a tear-filled, emotional, and uplifting moment they share with us. They finally have hope for their future. We thank you for assisting us in ensuring we can continue to provide this moment for women.

We also continue to feel humbled by the levels of support we see from our community. From individuals, families, and ambassadors to schools, organisations, and government bodies, we are continually amazed by the impassioned advocacy and endorsement of our work from within our supporter community. A number of new and ongoing partnerships help us to continue our work in what has been a challenging and uncertain time for so many.

Throughout this newsletter, you will read about our current work as well as some truly inspiring stories from the women we support. Our education and employment pathways continue to be such a unique and valuable part of our service, providing increased opportunities, a positive mindset and, importantly, a future of financial stability. I hope, as you read through this newsletter, that you feel the same sense of satisfaction that each of us at Catherine House does, knowing we are working to improve outcomes for women in our community. Your support makes our work possible, and on behalf of the team, I again express our gratitude.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can get further involved, please do not hesitate to reach out. On behalf of everyone at Catherine House, I wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy Christmas, and I look forward to your continued support in 2024.

Julie Duncan
General Manager,
Catherine House



Since January 2023, with your incredible support, we were able to achieve the following outcomes for women experiencing homelessness:

54 women provided with safe and secure accommodation at any given time.

498 enquiries were taken by our Intake Service Worker.

381 clients worked with across all our programs and services.

33,577 client case sessions entered into our database.


408 activities, workshops and courses were delivered to 123 women.

2,318 attendances were recorded at the Women’s Centre.

54 women engaged with the Education & Employment Officer.

77 Education Grants were provided to 28 women and included items such as ukuleles, WIFI devices, driving lessons, software and more.

595 individual goals have been set by women. (Goals include obtaining drivers licence, completing educational courses, managing finances and more).


So far in 2023, we have served 31,149 meals to our clients across all our programs.

We receive fresh, in-season produce year-round thanks to our partnership with Wills & Daniel, and the Adelaide Central Market.

We’d also like to thank the following individuals and businesses who made a commitment to support our Kitchen Program:

Air Diffusion Agencies
Anne & Jegan Krishnan
Eleanor Crawford
Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith
Jeff & Toni Ellison
Kathryn & Nick House
Key Conveyancing
Lucy Hood, Rhiannon Pearce & Nat Cook
Paul & Michelle Stallan
The Honourable Penny Wong
Redarc Electronics
Riedel SA
Sandy PitcherSimon & Monica Tiddy
Stanley & Co. Lawyers
Sylvia & Anthony Toop
William Buck

Outcomes of women exiting Catherine House

86% reported an improvement in their living skills.

84% reported improved interpersonal skills and connections.

78% reported improved management of mental health.

86% reported improved management of physical health.

86% reported improved sense of ability to achieve.

Alyssa’s Story

I grew up living in multiple houses, moving from family member to family member, and eventually being reunited with my mother in our home. It wasn’t the safest area to live, with many assaults, gangs and dealers around every corner. I found myself being mixed up in these crowds, which turned into a lifestyle over time.

I had dropped out of school, my only safe place as a young teenager. I had limited my social network and education due to spending all my time with these people. I was couch surfing from the age of 12, with little to no rules on how I was living life, who I was involved with or what I would do with my days. This went on for years. Little did I realise then how it would impact me in years to come.

The moment I walked through the doors of Catherine House, I felt welcomed, respected, safe and valued by both the wonderful staff and other women on their own journeys. It was such a safe space with a warm feeling all around. There was no interference from people outside. I was at ease. I no longer had to worry. I could finally relax.


North Adelaide Football Club Ladies Day

Catherine House Client Services Manager, Deirdre Flynn, was thrilled to be invited to speak as part of the Ladies Day Fundraiser held by North Adelaide Football Club in August. Deirdre spoke to the club members about the challenges facing Catherine House and shed light on the crisis we are currently facing with homelessness, mental health and domestic violence. It was an honour to participate in a great day of celebrating women and their accomplishments on and off the field.

In line with National Homelessness Week, the North Adelaide Football Club raised valuable funds for our Crisis Accommodation Service and also conducted a donation drive, collecting items from our high-needs list to support the women living with us. We are so grateful for the support of the Club, all the members who attended and the donors who helped make this incredible event possible.

Women in Business Appreciation lunch

We are so grateful to have been a part of the ‘Women in Business Appreciation Lunch’ held by Alexander Financial Group. The afternoon included several great speakers – including one who shared her experiences striving for success in her heavily male-dominated field, and another bravely told her account of experiencing domestic and family violence throughout her career.

Thank you to everyone who attended and supported this empowering event, which managed to raise over $5,000 to support our Crisis Accommodation Service. Thank you, Alexander Financial Group!

Kiwanis Club

Molly, our Fundraising and Campaign Coordinator, was delighted to speak at the Kiwanis Club, sharing information about Catherine House with another great community organisation. Thank you for having us Kiwanis Club of Rostrevor Campbelltown!

Adelaide Strikers Women in sport lunch

In late November, we were fortunate to be chosen as the official Charity Partner of the Adelaide Strikers Women in Sport Lunch at Adelaide Oval. It was a wonderful event with a fantastic panel and an inspiring keynote from Holly Ransom. Thank you to everyone who donated financially or bought items from our Christmas Wishlist. A huge thank you to Allison and the South Australian Cricket Association team for organising the event.

Rotary Club of Mitcham Quiz Night

The Rotary Club of Mitcham held a fun-filled quiz night for members, friends and family at Unley Bowling Club, raising funds for Catherine House. A special thank you to Peter, Chris, Sandy and Verlie for organising this event.

Club President Alex had the winning table but requests for an enquiry fell on deaf ears! Thank you to all who supported the evening, including the Sturt Bowling Club volunteers who ensured the evening ran smoothly.

Collective: Inspiring Women In Business

In October, Jaylee Cooper and Amy Simons attended the Collective Inspiring Women in Business event supporting Catherine House. Kara and the team at Mas National have been tremendous supporters of Catherine House over the past few years, raising more than $20,000 from the Collective event and sponsorship.

We are truly grateful to be a part of a community of people who care so deeply about the work we do to support women experiencing homelessness, thank you.

Dine at Dusk

Our Fundraising and Campaign Coordinator, Molly, was honoured to attend and speak at the annual Ladies Who Dine at Dusk event, held in October at the beautiful Spear Creek Holiday Park. Courtney and Jenny’s empowering women’s event included a delicious meal catered by Leah Richardson.

Guest speaker, Ros, who was previously a client at Catherine House, bravely shared her experiences of homelessness and recovery. Her resilience was inspiring to everyone in the room. A huge thank you to Courtney and Jenny for organising this event which raised an incredible $10,350 to support Catherine House.

Catherine House: Through The Years


Catherine House opens.

Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine House opened its doors on September 12th for the first time as emergency accommodation for up to 12 women.


Catherine House expands as demand for services rises.

The second purpose-built house was opened.


10 year anniversary, support from the former Governor of South Australia

Dame Roma Mitchell was named the official Patron. During the first 10 years, Catherine House supported over 3000 women.

Community Ambassadors

Ambassador Update

As 2023 wraps up, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our wonderful 64 Community Ambassadors. This group of dedicated supporters have spent the year volunteering, advocating and raising funds for Catherine House. Since they began fundraising in February, this group has (made up of 56 individuals, three groups and five families) have organised countless events big and small, all because of their strong held commitment to supporting women experiencing homelessness. We are amazed to announce that our 2023 Community Ambassadors have raised over $200,000 this year. We are beyond grateful for their incredible hard work. Here are just a few of their achievements:

Rebecca & Christine’s Quiz Night

In August, sister Community Ambassadors, Rebecca and Christine, put together an outstanding quiz night supporting Catherine House. This event, held at The Highway Hotel, truly went above and beyond, featuring a raffle, a wine wall, an auction and more!

We are incredibly grateful for all fundraising events, big or small, supporting South Australian women experiencing homelessness. Every dollar donated, every new conversation started, and toiletry pack donated is a step towards ending women’s homelessness. It’s safe to say we were blown away by Rebecca and Christine’s efforts, which brought in over $50,000 from their incredible efforts.

HOME: Sam & Maddie’s Fundraising Dinner at the Salopian Inn

This winter, mother and daughter Community Ambassadors, Sam and Maddie Marchetti, joined forces with the beautiful Salopian Inn, to host an intimate fundraising dinner and art auction. The evening, which hosted over 100 guests, included produce and wine donated by local businesses, as well as gorgeous artworks donated by local artists, a silent auction, a raffle, a wine wall and a lucky door prize.

Adelaide hospitality legends, Sharon Romeo and Mark Reginato, donated their time to host the entertaining evening, which raised over $15,500 to support the Catherine House Crisis Accommodation Service.

Cathy’s high tea

Community Ambassador, Cathy, hosted a fabulous ‘High Tea on the Seas’ at Largs Bay Sailing Club on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in September. Guests were dressed in a sea of purple, showing their support for Catherine House!

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed an afternoon of live music, decadent treats, table prizes and raffles. Cathy embraced her community, asking friends and family to donate their time to create the delicious food offerings, maximising her fundraising capacities. Thank you Cathy for organising this beautiful event.

Bunnings BBQ

Thank you to everyone who supported our most recent Bunnings BBQ at Mile End, held in September. A huge thank you to our volunteers, everyone who stopped past for a sausage, and to those generous people who donated bread, sauce and soft drinks.

A special thank you to Troy, who donated 70 kilograms of sausages! This collective generosity from the community makes such a difference to our fundraising efforts. $2,400 was raised, funding over two weeks of accommodation for a woman in our Crisis Service.

Kate’s Quiz Night

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed an afternoon of live music, decadent treats, table prizes and raffles. Cathy embraced her community, asking friends and family to donate their time to create the delicious food offerings, maximising her fundraising capacities. Thank you Cathy for organising this beautiful event.

School Fundraising

St Thomas More School Elizabeth Park & St Mary Magdalene’s

Thank you to the incredible staff at St Thomas More School Elizabeth Park and St Mary Magdalene’s School, who spent time creating packs of much-needed items for women at Catherine House. We are so grateful to receive ongoing support from our incredible community!

St Francis de Sales College

St Francis de Sales College ended the term by celebrating College Day, an annual event which honours their generous heritage by holding a charity fundraiser. St Francis de Sales chose to raise money for Catherine House, with a successful (and delicious) bake sale.

Interested in fundraising
for Catherine House?

We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with our Fundraising and Campaign Coordinator, Molly Dyer, by emailing [email protected] or phoning (08) 8232 2282.

Women’s Experiences of Homelessness Revealed Through Art Bus Workshops

Claire and Miranda, respected artists, qualified teachers, and owners of the Art Bus, have been running a weekly visual arts program at Catherine House for almost two years. They are known and trusted by those who use the Women’s Centre to access the many diverse activities and supports on offer.

We recently asked them to devote a series of classes focusing on the women’s lived experience of homelessness. Here is what they had to say:

In July this year, we were asked if we might focus part of our upcoming Adult Community Education program on gender and homelessness through art. We introduced the idea, asking the group of 10 women if they were interested in talking about this issue and if they would like to learn the process of mono printing. Three women were new to the group: one woman was recently released from prison, another had just returned to Australia, and the third was recovering from long-term addiction.

We discussed what parity meant and how gender and homelessness intersected. Each person had something to say, and as we talked, key words and ideas were written up on a whiteboard.

The women described a homelessness journey as often, but not always, going from cars to tents, to couch surfing, and finally to cement.

Supporter Spotlight:
KWY Aboriginal Corporation

Who is KWY?

KWY is a not-for-profit Aboriginal organisation focused on creating a place for change. We provide Aboriginal people, families, and community with cultural services and supports that build positive change. KWY also work with government, non-government organisations and industry to create change in their organisation and business through our cultural consultancy and training services.

Over the last few years, KWY has rapidly grown to support over 1,500 people a year. KWY support Aboriginal people to stay safe, thrive and continue to be connected to culture. KWY have experienced great outcomes, such as keeping family together and improving their safety. KWY’s portfolio has increased to cover domestic and family violence, child protection, youth work, kinship care, disability, mentoring, Aboriginal education outcomes, perpetrator intervention, and cultural training and consultancy.

Cultural ways of healing and engagement are embedded throughout our programs. These provide a unique way of improving outcomes and wellbeing, reducing risk and increasing safety. In turn, this will provide a safe space to encourage reconnection with our culture, our spirit, our community.

Strong Families, Strong Communities
(peer to peer program)

KWY in partnership with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) have launched a new group program; Strong Families, Strong Communities. This program is designed and facilitated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

This peer-to-peer program is calling for community members who have deadly skills in a range of areas and can share these with your community. These skills can be anything from art, culture or cooking to time management, budgeting or navigating systems. KWY will walk alongside and provide some training to peer volunteers to help support community-led change through connectedness. These groups will be running in Northern and Western metropolitan Adelaide and Mount Gambier.

KWY Training & Consultancy

KWY provides culturally specific training to increase cultural understanding for better engagement, improving the delivery of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Some of their programs include:

CUBE – Cultural Understanding Better Engagement
This one-day training offers the opportunity for participants to:

  • Increase participant’s own cultural understanding
  • Discuss strategies for the implementation of their new learnings
  • Examine how these learnings may be embedded into service delivery
  • Improved relationships between Aboriginal staff/volunteers and community
  • Gain awareness and a greater understanding of organisational cultural competency.

TICR – Trauma Informed Culturally Responsive
This two-day training offers the opportunity for participants to:

  • Gain an understanding of the guiding principles of culturally responsive practice and how this could be applied in your daily work
  • Have a greater understanding of the guiding principles of trauma-informed/responsive practice and how this could be applied in culturally responsive ways in your roles
  • Have direct opportunities to explore what it looks like in action and develop practical steps to utilise in your workplaces.
  • Explore our brain and the impact of stress
  • Discuss intergenerational trauma and what is needed to respond.
Maryke van Diermen, Craig Rigney, Deirdre Flynn & Jaylee Cooper

We look forward to strengthening our already valued partnership with KWY to support Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander women who experience homelessness and domestic and family violence.

Can you help us give hope to women experiencing homelessness this Christmas?

‘Notes of Hope’ written by members of the community will be served with Christmas Lunch.

“I feel anxious about how Christmas will look for me this year, but my caseworker has told me that Catherine House tries to make the day as special as they can for us.

I hope this time next year I’m back on my feet and in my own home.”

Each woman staying at Catherine House will receive a special Christmas Gift Bag to remind her she is valued.

What does your Christmas look like this year?

On Christmas Day, we will support more than 70 women at Catherine House. This includes the 54 women staying with us, plus many more who will join us for Christmas lunch because they have nowhere else to go.

We want to make Christmas special for women who are facing such a challenging time in their lives – in contrast to what is often the happiest time of the year for others.

Christmas Day at Catherine House, 2022

We hope that you will consider making a donation to our Christmas Appeal, giving hope and support to women experiencing homelessness across South Australia.

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