Enjoying their stay: Amelia and Naomi Westlake
When Red Cross opened the doors of its brand new short stay facility in the Western Australian Goldfields in 2012, no one could have imagined it would have become such a well-loved place in such a short time.
Local community Elder Elsie Walker has been involved with the facility since the beginning.
"It's a beautiful place. It's what people need," she says. "It's a place to come and stay where people know they are safe. No alcohol and drugs are allowed so you know it's going to be safe."
The Short Stay provides accommodation in cabins and permanent tents set in peaceful, lush gardens. It has a large community building with kitchen, dining and sitting areas, clean shared bathrooms, laundry and a children's playground.
It is an affordable, safe place to stay for up to three months, with access to individual and family support, community and health services and learning and personal development opportunities. Children staying there attend a nearby primary school.
Jamieson sisters Amelia and Naomi Westlake were staying at the Boulder Short Stay facility for the first time when we caught up with them. They had been enjoying their stay for more than one month, taking the opportunity to connect with family and attending to family business.
They agree it's a good place to stay and it feels quiet and peaceful. They say they would happily recommend it to others from their remote community, 700 km east of Kalgoorlie.
A community building is set in lush grounds with a fire pit.
Red Cross Community Development Manager Dawn Gilchrist says, "It's filling a real need in the region.
Previously, when the Spinifex people came into Kalgoorlie-Boulder from their communities in the Great Victoria Desert, they had very little choice about where to stay," Mrs Gilchrist says.
"They were often forced to sleep rough, exposed to the weather in often dangerous and unhealthy situations," she says. "There were very few options so we are pleased to be able to offer people a welcome home away from home when they visit Kalgoorlie-Boulder, where they can be warm in winter, cool in summer and sheltered from extreme weather.
"They tell us they really value knowing they have a comfortable bed and clean bathrooms and laundry when they need to come into town."
Some 650 people have stayed at the facility since it opened in January 2013, staying an average of 10 days each.
Photos: Lesley Desmond/Australian Red Cross