Marie Cone has won the Creating Change award at the 2019 Gold Coast Women in Business Awards. Cone found herself reading about the acute shortage of crisis accommodation for women and children affected by domestic and family violence in 2014. After reading the shocking statistics on the issue, Cone became the originator of an Australian first, believing that development and construction companies could use their skills and resources to help the accommodation crisis for survivors.  “I was deeply moved by the scale of the need,” said Cone. “I took the idea to my employer Halcyon and from there, began our journey to combine our resources with others in our industry to be part of the solution.”

Mirvac partnered with Halcyon to provide the land and over 90 south-east Queensland suppliers and contractors volunteered to help. Cone rallied the support of Halcyon resident homeowners to raise funds for the fit-out.  In August 2019, the Minister for Domestic and Family Violence opened the first facility, Bella’s Sanctuary. The project is a $1.6 million facility. Bella’s Sanctuary was gifted to DVConnect, Queensland’s largest domestic and family violence crisis response service. DVConnect now own and manage the sanctuary.

The sanctuary is Australia’s first purpose designed and built accommodation. Bella’s Sanctuary bridges accommodation for survivors of domestic violence, allowing women and children to stay for up to a year to rebuild their lives with the support of DVConnect. The sanctuary provides five self-contained units of different sizes and additional communal living spaces where families can socialise and connect for peer support.

“Everyone involved in Bella’s Sanctuary has been deeply inspired by the vision and committed to making a difference in this space,” said Cone. “It has been a really special journey and I hope this is just the start of many more Bella’s Sanctuaries in the near future.”

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