Prob­lems on the rise

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News -

A GUILD­FORD res­i­dent who es­tab­lished a char­ity to tackle so­cial is­sues says she has seen a surge in un­der­age drink­ing, ice and meth use, an in­crease in vi­o­lence, para­noia, ag­i­ta­tion, anx­i­ety and self-harm.

AS a young woman in her teens and early 20s, Pa­tri­cia La­vater spent her nights walk­ing the streets of Mid­land.

While this may seem dan­ger­ous, it was be­cause she was con­cerned for young women she saw who were ad­dicted to heroin, sleep­ing in cars, and ru­n­aways.

So con­cerned was she about their well­be­ing that Ms La­vater es­tab­lished a youth drop-in cen­tre at the ripe old age of 17; by then she’d al­ready been help­ing peo­ple in cri­sis for three years.

From those hum­ble begin­nings, the Guild­ford res­i­dent, now 53, es­tab­lished the Es­ther Foun­da­tion, which is now a recog­nised char­ity tack­ling some of so­ci­ety’s most press­ing is­sues.

Those is­sues in­clude sub­stance abuse, sex­ual and emo­tional abuse, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, men­tal health, preg­nancy, self-harm, fam­ily break­downs, bul­ly­ing, de­pres­sion and eat­ing dis­or­ders.

The residential women’s health and de­vel­op­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion now op­er­ates seven homes in Perth, hous­ing up to 30 young women and their chil­dren, mak­ing it the largest of its kind in Aus­tralia.

Thanks to the gen­er­ous sup­port of spon­sors, the foun­da­tion has grown and has most re­cently opened a new op­por­tu­nity shop in Como, next door to the Cygnet Theatre.

Pa­tri­cia La­vater says the new store is just another way of help­ing some of the many women she sees in cri­sis to­day.

“I am see­ing a surge in un­der-age drink­ing, the use of ice or meth, an in­crease in vi­o­lence, para­noia, ag­i­ta­tion, anx­i­ety and self-harm, which is hor­rific to en­counter at any age.

“We are see­ing young girls aged 12 who are drink­ing and tak­ing drugs and their fu­ture is not look­ing good.

“I have seen the changes in the streets and more work needs to be done now to save our chil­dren’s fu­ture,” she said.

The new op shop opened in July and is staffed by some of the women the Es­ther Foun­da­tion has helped.

d441407 Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son

Lil Ladyman (left) and Anita Maxwell in Es­ther Foun­da­tion’s new op shop in Como.

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