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Sahara House is the first Australian shelter for Indian-origin women

Julian Hill MP, Shayne Neumann MP, with Jatinder Kaur and members from Brisbane Sikh temple receiving a donation of $8887 from the CEO of Key Assets for Sahara Source: Supplied

Sahara House was inaugurated in Brisbane last year - it is the first shelter that serves as a refuge for women of Indian origin anywhere in Australia.

Speaking to SBS Punjabi about this, Jatinder Kaur, the Brisbane-based social worker who is the Manager of Sahara  House said,"This is the first shelter of it's kind for women of Indian origin. The house actually belongs to the Logan Rd Gurudwara (Sikh temple), and they have dedicated the space for the purpose of giving shelter to women in need."

"I believe this is the first Sikh temple in Australia to do something like this. But the fact is, that women from any faith - Hindu, Sikh, Muslim etc can stay in the shelter, as long as they are of Indian origin."

The Women's Sahara House is actually a five-bedroom home in Brisbane, the location of which is undisclosed to protect and maintain the privacy of the women who come there. 

"So far in about a year, we have had around 10 women come to us, seeking shelter. Many are now placed on a waiting list since we're operating at full capacity," said Ms Kaur.

"Currently, five women are staying with their children at Sahara House and the vast majority of the women are those with a temporary visa status - because of which they don't receive any government help."

Last year, the shelter received a funding of just under $9,000 from a business group. 

"A donation of $8887.89 was given to Sahara House by Mr Rob Ryan, the CEO of Key Assests, which was accepted by Brisbane Sikh Temple President Mr Jasjot Singh and Treasurer Mandeep Singh." 

This coincided with the visit to Sahara House by Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Shayne Neumann, as well as by Julian HIll MP, the parliamentarian spearheading the Senate Inquiry into dowry abuse in Australia. "The federal labor leaders met with Indian DV-dowry abuse victims," she said.

Ms Kaur urged other Gurudwaras and religious institutions around Australia to follow this model.

"I get so many calls from women in distress who are based in Sydney and Melbourne. It would be great if the religious organisations in these cities would use the money collected in their Golak to help women in need."

Sahara House also receives referrals from the government-run shelters in Queensland, because currently the demand is very high.

'Typically, the demand goes up during the Christmas-New Year period and this year is no different," Ms Kaur told SBS Punjabi. 

PLEASE NOTE: If you or someone you know needs help, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. You can also call MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 and Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. In an emergency, call 000.

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