The long hard road to Orange getting its first domestic violence shelter has finally come to completion with the opening of The Orchard.
Despite Orange having domestic violence reporting rates twice the state average, Housing Plus had been battling to get a crisis centre here since the 1990s.
In the three years since funding was approved for the shelter, it had been a divisive issue in the community - particularly for those residents near the George Weily Place location.
Housing Plus CEO David Fisher said it got so ugly at times Housing Plus staff had been "personally attacked" and "challenged and threatened on occasion".
At one point, both the CEO and his colleagues at the not-for-profit had found grocery shopping and dropping their kids off at school "nerve racking".
Speaking to media at The Orchard's opening on Friday, Mr Fisher paid tribute to the resilience of Housing Plus staff to get the huge, difficult project off the ground.
"Orange has high-levels of DV and no refuge. Housing Plus has taken over 2,400 referrals from NSW Police in the last year across the Central West. [Some] 370 of those referrals were assessed as serious threat of further injury or death."
The purpose-built accommodation for 72 women and their children escaping domestic abuse had been a divisive issue for the community throughout the facility's planning and development.
While the facility itself is something of a fortress with high-fencing, CCTV, access controls and duress alarms to keep those inside safe, neighbouring homes had little safeguard.
While The Orchard wouldn't be taking in its first resident until December, the Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee said Housing Plus was already bracing for a spike in applicants.
Mr Gee added that despite Orange's current high rate of reported domestic abuse cases, he believed the new centre would be big enough.
"This project has grown over the years, initially it was a more compact facility and the design has changed and grown," he said, adding that the total cost was $3.9 million.
Housing Plus's head of community services Penny Dordoy said The Orchard will be a "one-stop-shop" for domestic abuse services Orange.
While 72 women and their families will live there, any woman experiencing domestic abuse could use it as safe space.
Unlike the vast majority of refuges in NSW, The Orchard will also allow victims to bring pets. In fact, it was even built with animals in mind, she said.
"That was a real criteria for us... We're all about pets. We've got people sleeping in cars because they won't separate from their pets and I wouldn't either," Ms Dordoy said.
"(Pets are also) great support for women (experiencing domestic abuse). Sometimes that's their only support."
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