March 2, 2017

Women now feel safer at Hampton Road

An ambitious, hands-on redevelopment project has created a secure, women-only floor within Foundation Housing’s Hampton Road lodging house.

Previously the five-storey Fremantle building housed all female residents on level 2, which has only 26 rooms available and unrestricted access to anyone in the building.

“We could see it was becoming a bit of a thoroughfare, with men wandering in to use the laundry or linger in the hallway, and that can be unsettling for women who may already feel vulnerable and unsafe,” Lodging Manager Melissa Selke explains.

“We saw the opportunity to make level 4 the women-only floor and to provide swipe-entry security for peace of mind.

“The other advantage is that level 4 has 56 rooms, so we’ll be able to have more female residents within Hampton Road and that will make a positive difference to the overall atmosphere and dynamic of the lodging house.”

Selke says the four-month project was by no means a straight-forward floor swap. “It required a lot of hard work on the part of a lot of people – it was a real team effort,” she says.

“For a start we had to decamp the 56 men on that floor to various other rooms in the lodge and that couldn’t happen all at once.

“Many rooms needed significant works and these were staggered by priority to ensure they could be managed in-house and not incur further costs from external contractors.

“Then there was all the structural work that had to be undertaken – cabling, security doors, CCTV cameras, and fire and safety adaptations.

“All of this was somehow achieved on top of everyone’s normal daily work and the results are really satisfying to see.”

Selke says the feedback from female residents has been overwhelmingly positive. “What might seem like a fairly small change in the grand scheme of things has actually made quite a profound difference to these women,” she says.

“Feeling more safe and secure in your home, especially if your background has involved family violence or fear, is very empowering.

“Being able to shut the door behind you and have peace and quiet – it’s what these women deserve.