For over 40 years we have provided support and accommodation to women, with and without children, whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence or family violence.

DV West’s (formerly known as West Connect Domestic Violence Services) roots come from the Penrith Community Cottage (late 1970s), which in 1981 became Penrith Women’s Refuge. The refuge was originally run by volunteers. In 1989 the refuge had a complete restructure under the supervision of the Department of Community Services (now DCJ), which included the creation and implementation of operational policies and procedures, and the employment of a manager and skilled staff. As a result of the new practices, which were shaped by the feminist philosophy, the refuge became a member of the Women’s Refuge Movement in 1994 and started taking on an active role within the Movement’s activities. This included attending rallies, campaigns, lobbying activities, and hosting State conferences.

In the following years the refuge saw continuous growth and expansion:

  • The creation of a Resource Centre
  • Domestic violence groups
  • Involvement in a Transitional Housing Project in partnership with Wentworth Community Housing
  • Support services in women’s prisons in partnership with Jessie Street Domestic Violence Services
  • The operation and management of an Aboriginal women and children’s refuge (Wirrawee Gunya)

In 2013 Going Home, Staying Home Reforms

In 2013 the NSW Government under the Going Home Staying Home reforms put all homelessness services out to tender. Penrith Women’s Refuge partnered with Jessie Street Domestic Violence Services for the tender. The services included Jessie Street, Penrith Women’s Refuge, Wirrawee Gunya, Wimlah Refuge in the Blue Mountains and Nurreen in the Hawkesbury area. The submission was successful, and we became West Connect Domestic Violence Services (WCDVS). Our services expanded to include the Nepean, Blue Mountains, Blacktown/Hills and Hawkesbury districts.

In 2016, WCDVS was funded by Family and Community Services (now DCJ) to provide the Domestic Violence Response Enhancement (DVRE) program, known as our DV After Hours Service.

In 2018 Change of CEO

Anne Sillett, who led the organisation for many years, retired in 2018. Anne navigated the organisation through an incredible period of growth and expansion and created a strong foundation for the organisation’s future. WCDVS welcomed Catherine Gander as the new CEO in 2018.

In 2020 WCDVS changes to DV West

Changed from an Association Incorporated to a Company Limited by Guarantee, which coincided with a change in name. WCDVS became DV West, and the services changed to DV West Nepean (formerly Penrith), DV West Blacktown/Hills (formerly Jessie Street), DV West Blue Mountains (formerly Wimlah), DV West Wirrawee Gunya (formerly Wirrawee Gunya), and DV West After Hours (formerly DVRE).

In 2024 Wirrawee Gunya Dharruk commenced operation

In 2024, DV West expanded Wirrawee Gunya services to the Blacktown LGA for Aboriginal women and children, Wirrawee Gunya Dharruk. Wirrawee Gunya Dharruk officially opened in April 2024 and will provide crisis accommodation with three purpose built units for independent living and also outreach supports for Aboriginal women and children living in the community.

The organisation has continued to grow and consolidate:

  • Employment of Manager of Aboriginal Services and Development
  • The implementation of the Children’s Framework , shifting the way that we centralise children in our work
  • The development of the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)
  • Expansion of pet accommodation to include the Blue Mountains service
  • Implementation of Safe and Together Model into practice
  • Established DV West LGBTQ+ Working Group
  • Launched DV West’s Children’s Evaluation Report, “Implementing a Framework for Practice: Evaluation of the DV West Children’s Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Program.”
  • Launched DV West’s Outcomes Evaluation Report – “We are safe and living”, A Pilot Study of Support Needs and Outcomes for Women Accessing DV West’s Domestic Violence Specialist Services, 2023.”
  • Approved Victim Services Counsellor