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About Us

Kara House is a specialist family violence service providing safe and secure accommodation and outreach services to women and children escaping family violence. We encourage and empower women to take control of their lives and work towards making strategies to create a better future.

About Kara House


354 women and 199 children each year

Last year we supported 354 women and 199 children with secure refuge and outreach services

45 different cultural backgrounds

Last year we provided services to clients from 45 linguistic and cultural backgrounds

89% have experienced violence before

Up to 89% of our clients have experienced some form of family violence previously in their life

72% disclosed previous mental illness

Last year 72% of our clients disclosed a previous mental illness including depression and anxiety

100% successful client court outcomes

All the women we support and assistance in court have had successful outcomes

52% increase in LGBTI clients

In 2018 there was a 52% increase in clients identifying as LGBTI and requesting specialist services

Operating for 40 years, Kara House is a non-for-profit organisation primarily funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. Further fundraising and grants help support additional educational programs, well-being activities and improvements to the refuge.

  • We believe in the rights of women and children to live free of violence and we provide highly secure accommodation which prioritises their safety
  • We offer a range of programs and services including risk assessment, case management, outreach support, children’s programs, advocacy and client education
  • We have a specialist understanding of the complexities of family violence which helps our clients make informed choices to improve their long term outcomes
  • We challenge service providers, government and the community to adopt responses that do not tolerate violence to women and children

Our history

  • The Italian welfare organisation Co.As.It (Comitato Assistenza Italiana) creates a place for women to reside in response to the existence of violence in Italian families. The house, located in Carlton, was self-funded by Co.As.It and the Italian community
  • Government support is introduced in Victoria for refuges and Co.As.It is one of the first to receive funding. This enables Co.As.It. to establish a permanent refuge
  • After lengthy discussions, Co.As.It relinquishes responsibility to a new body to be run solely for women
  • The organisation purchases a permanent location which still houses the refuge to today
  • The women’s refuge becomes an Incorporated Association known as Kara House
  • Kara House, in response to community need, establishes a Domestic Violence Outreach program to provide information and support
  • Kara House expands its Domestic Violence Outreach program to meet the needs of lesbian/same sex attracted women
  • Kara House receives funding from the department of Human Services to provide a program called A Place to Call Home
  • Kara House expands its Family Violence Outreach Program to include the entire LGBTI community
  • Kara House moves office to larger premises with better facilities, sharing with another family violence service
  • Kara House takes a larger role in the Motel Outreach Program, supporting up to 300 women and their children a year
  • Kara House introduces the Family Violence Support Group which provides ongoing support for women who have experienced family violence in the wider community


All women should have the right to live free of family violence, harassment, discrimination and abuse.


Kara House is committed to providing a physical and personal environment which optimises the privacy, value and strength of the individual.


Kara House supports the rights of women and children to live in safety and without fear, using professional practice informed by feminist, human rights and social justice principles.

Our partners

Who we work with

Department of Health and Human Services

We would like to thank the Department of Health and Human Services who provide our operational funding under the Funding and Service Agreement and to the staff in the Eastern Region who have assisted with their donation collections and ongoing support.

We’d like to thank the organisations and services listed below who we partner with to provide services.

Who we are


Management Committee

Kara House is an Incorporated Association governed by a Management Committee with an executive elected by its Members.

The Kara House Management Committee is comprised of knowledgeable women with extensive experience in business related disciplines such as Financial Services, Legal, IT, Human Resources, Fundraising and Marketing. Members also have welfare related knowledge, including general service provision and mental health.

Kara House Management Committee has responsibility under the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012 and the Kara House constitution to provide leadership, set the strategic direction of the organisation and monitor the finances and activities. The Management Committee has overall responsibility to ensure Kara House is accountable, complies with all relevant legal and regulatory requirements, and supports its vision, purpose and aims. Our Management Committee members are all volunteers that give of their time and expertise.

Kara House Management Committee

Chair Catherine Lockstone
Secretary Melinda Harrison
Treasurer Jyoti Wardhen
Vice Chair Maureen Breen
Member Veronica Coleman
Susan Smith
Chloe Brayne
Dr Angela Spinney
Dr Ilsa Evans

Learn more about Kara House through our Annual Reports

Interested in joining the Kara House Management Committee?

Kara House is governed by a Management Committee of capable and professional women and welcomes applications from women who can add to our skill base. If you are interested in joining the Kara House Management Committee, please email your expression of interest to the Manager at admin@karahouse.org.au

Working to ensure Quality Improvement

Kara House is constantly looking at our policies and procedures, risk management processes, client service delivery and human resource for ways of improving.


Kara House successfully underwent external Accreditation in March 2018 meeting all requirements. Accreditors from Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) assessed Kara House against the Quality Improvement Council standards (QIC) and the Department of Health and Human Service standards (HSS). Kara House is now an Accredited organisation through to 2021. The Management and staff of Kara House are committed to continuous improvement and we are proud to have achieved Accreditation and to have received positive feedback.