Jean Gall steps down from Ngala House Women's Refuge board after 23 years

STEPPING DOWN: Jean Gall has decided to retire from the Ngala House Women's Refuge board after 24 years.
STEPPING DOWN: Jean Gall has decided to retire from the Ngala House Women's Refuge board after 24 years.

After more than two decades of dedication to helping some of Moree's most vulnerable women and children, Jean Gall has decided to step down from the board of Ngala House Women's Refuge.

The long-serving secretary first joined the Ngala House board in 1996 after her former Moree Hospital colleague Pattie Wood asked her to join.

"Pattie and I worked together as colleagues at the hospital," Mrs Gall explained.

"Pattie was a mental health nurse and I was the pharmacist. That's how we met."

Mrs Wood had been working as the manager of Ngala House for two years when she asked Mrs Gall to come on board and the pair have enjoyed a fantastic working relationship ever since.

Having retired as a pharmacist in 1998, Mrs Gall said she's loved being involved in the women's refuge over the past 24 years.

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"It's been very rewarding, seeing what the refuge does," she said.

"The refuge is here for every woman in the community. A lot of people mistakenly think it is only for Aboriginal women, but every woman, no matter their race or background, is welcome.

"That's what Ngala means, mother and child."

Ngala House manager Pattie Wood with Jean Gall who is stepping down from the board. The pair have enjoyed a great working relationship for more than two decades.

Ngala House manager Pattie Wood with Jean Gall who is stepping down from the board. The pair have enjoyed a great working relationship for more than two decades.

Mrs Gall said she knows the refuge has made a difference to many people's lives over the years.

"It's a refuge for people who are suffering," she said.

"I have never experienced anything like it [domestic violence] in my life but I realise I am very fortunate. I think it is very sad that women have to live under those conditions of being frightened and manipulated by a partner.

"Anything we can do to help and give them assistance and knowing where to get help, is a good thing."

The women's refuge provides crisis accommodation and support for women and children fleeing domestic violence or who are homeless due to circumstances beyond their control.

Mrs Wood said domestic violence often isn't just physical and in rural areas like the Moree district social isolation and mental abuse is sadly all too common.

"A partner stopping a woman going into town or not giving them access to money, that's all violence," she said.

"Some men will take the keys off their partner so they can't leave a property or make them homeschool children."

The women's refuge can take up to 12 people at a time, whether that's 12 women or one woman and 11 children.

It also provides outreach services to Boggabilla, Toomelah, Mungindi, Bingara and Warialda.

Although she's loved her time on the close-knit Ngala House board, Mrs Gall said it's time for her to step down and let someone younger, "with new ideas" come in.

Mrs Wood said Mrs Gall will certainly be missed.

"I can't thank Jean enough for her experience with policies and accreditation," she said.

"Jean has a wealth of knowledge that I think she doesn't recognise. But to have her represent us has been phenomenal.

"We have the best committee in Moree. Our committee are leaders in our community."