Bonnie Support Services

Bonnie Support Services

A cup of tea… a life story

post-Varga1When we began to organise Bonnie’s 40th anniversary and the launch of the new service earlier this year, we started the search for our history and the early founders. Anna Sutton led the search, using libraries, archives and memories to find the women who had identified the need, found the house and set up the service. In doing so we were lucky to catch up with author Susan Varga (pictured left).

Susan was one of those founders. She wanted to be very clear that she is only one of the group of women – many of the others were south-west Sydney locals – who was there in those early days. Susan attended the launch on 30 June along with two other founding women, Di Powell and Christine Sykes, and expressed her delight in seeing where the service had gone in the previous 40 years. For those of us working here now it was amazing to meet these women and hear the stories of the early days.

After the launch Susan wrote two poems about Bonnie’s and shared her experience of the day. I am happy to share Susan’s poems with you:


Poems by Susan Varga



Forty years ago, we slept on the floor

of a small fibro house scrounged

from the Housing Commission.

We called it Bonnnie’s

and waited

for the first desperate women

to fall in door, trailing kids.

A cup of tea.

A life story.

In the morning the kids played

in the dusty back yard, safe –

for now.

People gave blankets, sheets, chairs.

They understood, without politics,

that this place of shelter

was needed.

Forty years later

Bonnie’s is still here.

A better, bigger house.


Long term services.

Paid staff.

This sole survivor

of the refuge movement

is still needed.

In dark truth

as the killings mount,

needed more.

Today a 40th birthday bash

for Bonnie’s

Yellow balloons in the courtyard.

Yellow and black posters everywhere –

saying “You are NOT powerless.”

Swings and slides for the kids.

A row of suited men,

respectfully silent

in a sea of elated women,

On leaflets, brochures, lips,

an old phrase to gladden my heart –

“By Women, For Women”


Words, Actions

Which really matters?

I always thought words.

Words enshrine actions,

give them weight,

pinning the butterfly

to the page, trapping action

beyond its brief life.

But looking back

across oceans of words,

expended, written, read,

I wonder…

Is it Action,

its simplicity, courage,

rush and surge

which truly transforms?

Not books in their stillness,

shut fast upon shelves.

And yet… and yet …

a phrase,

a submission pleading its case,

a half-forgotten conversation,

can be subterranean weapons,

torpedoes, depth chargers

erupting into action,

here, now!

Then we descend to the street

brandishing placards in bold –

You are



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