Katanning emergency centre on duty to aid vulnerable through pandemic

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseGreat Southern Herald
KREAC centre manager Sheralee Buss, case manager Lynda Higgins and shed manager Donna Kemp.
Camera IconKREAC centre manager Sheralee Buss, case manager Lynda Higgins and shed manager Donna Kemp. Credit: Sheralee Buss/Sheralee Buss.

With COVID-19 restrictions pausing many operations across the Great Southern, three women have been working around the clock to keep Katanning’s most vulnerable safe.

The Katanning Regional Emergency Accommodation Centre provides short-term crisis relief to people and families facing homelessness and domestic violence across the region.

The team have had to rethink how they operate over the past month to keep providing emergency relief and advocacy during the pandemic.

With families confined to their homes, support services have braced for a spike in family and domestic violence across the country.

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The KREAC team, which has been servicing the region for more than 30 years, is “taking each day as it comes”.

Centre manager Sheralee Buss said although social distancing and border closures had limited the number of people they could house, no one would be left in need.

“We have had to reduce our numbers in crisis accommodation — we have gone from 13 to seven, which is not good, but we have managed,” she said.

“We have other outlets. If we are full, we never turn anyone away.

“One person that experiences domestic violence is too much.”

In a usual week, the team can help as many as 20 people facing homelessness and domestic violence from across the region, and sometimes the State.

Ms Buss said when the accommodation facility was pushed to capacity the team did anything they could do to offer support including moving clients to long-term refuges across regional WA — something that had become difficult with the regional border restrictions.

“Sometimes we move them on to Esperance, Narrogin or Albany to the to help them with a longer stay than we do,” she said.

“With the regional border closures it has been very hard.

“The best thing we can do at the moment is to take each day as it comes, we need to keep everyone safe that is in our own region.”

The team will open the KREAC donations shed on Oxley Street next week ready to accept donations for families in need.

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