There isn't a dry eye in the room when members of the Allawah Cottage committee recount their experiences of domestic violence.
Karen Neader has been a familiar face at the Gunnedah train station for 13 years, but it's not always loving farewells that she witnesses on the platform.
Mrs Neader choked on emotion as she relived her memories of watching a woman beaten by her partner while she held onto a newborn baby, and another woman who turned up with torn, bloody feet from walking shoeless from Mullaley to escape after a violent attack.
"I was thinking, 'This is too much. It has got to stop. These women need somewhere to go'," Mrs Neader said.
"I have seen woman after woman, family after family displaced ... due to domestic violence.
"When I heard about the house, I was like, "Yep, I'm in'. We need this desperately."
Women like these can now find safety in Allawah Cottage, built by Jobs Australia in response to the rise of domestic violence in the shire.
The major project was headed up by Jobs Australia's Tracey Reid, who formed a passionate committee which drove the project to completion, and has raised community funds to keep the house operating.
Committee member Danielle Barisa was originally concerned about the house's future, but after wave after wave of support from the community and further afield, thanks to social media, her fears have been abated.
"The community is an enormous stakeholder in what we've achieved here and the committee wouldn't be able to do what it does without the support of the community," she said.
"I think our support base is actually getting bigger and wider."
Ms Reid said the project "would not be a reality" without the "tireless work" of the committee and her team at Jobs Australia.
"Researching the need for crisis accommodation in NSW and meeting victims and people that work in crisis accommodation for domestic violence is a life-changing journey," she said.
"The lives that domestic violence has touched has no age barrier, wealth barriers or education limits. It affects so many people in varying ways, emotional, financial, controlling and physical."
One of these victims, and survivors, is committee member Sam Senes who escaped domestic violence and wanted to help others do the same.
"I know in my situation, I probably stayed where I was for a lot longer because I felt I had nowhere to go, so I hope this encourages people that they have somewhere safe to go ... and have the support they need."
Fellow committee member Aylish Flannery said it was this need that led her to Allawah Cottage.
"It's something I'm passionate about and I'd like to support other women to live their lives as best they can," she said.
"Unfortunately, I think there is a huge need in our community and I think the data shows that if they don't have this, they're not going to make it through."
Allawah Cottage and its grounds have been designed to accommodate women and their children and pets, which are often cited as reasons for not leaving a domestic violence situation.
The three-bedroom cottage will house up to one family at a time, but there is space on the property to expand.
The committee is keen to help establish a second home in town and Jobs Australia says it hopes Allawah Cottage will be one of many safe havens it will establish in the region.
"The statistics for domestic violence and the need for more crisis accommodation grows daily and we hope to build more crisis accommodation houses in the New England and North West," Ms Reid said.
"My hope is that we can build support from communities as we have in Gunnedah."
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