The Girls Refuge is Sydney’s girls-only crisis refuge. Established in 1975, it was formerly known as Young People’s Refuge, and is one of the first youth refuges in NSW.

The Girls Refuge is located in Sydney’s inner west and each year cares for over 200 girls and young women either at the refuge or in the community. The refuge has eight beds for short term stays. We also provide support to families and young women who are living independently.

Girls and young women who stay with us are homeless or at risk of homelessness due to family breakdown, domestic and family violence, trauma, child abuse, disengagement with education, misuse of drugs and alcohol, mental health issues and interaction with the justice system.

The Girls Refuge is a supportive, home-like environment where girls are able to concentrate on learning and education and receive assistance to stabilise their lives and move towards a brighter future. During their time with us, girls focus on:

Having a calm, safe place to focus on goals, build communication skills and resilience

Remaining in school or, for older girls, enrolling in further education or training

Developing living skills to prepare for returning home (if that’s an option) or living independently

Where it’s possible, we also provide support for families to remain together and for girls to return home. This kind of support may include family mediation and counselling for the teenager and her family to work through difficult issues. We also provide respite where girls and young women can stay with us for short periods.  

The Girls Refuge employs an all-female staff which includes a senior case manager, caseworkers and youth workers. The refuge is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Our Mission

The Girls Refuge empowers girls to become responsible and confident in a safe and comfortable home-like environment. We provide a foundation for girls to find stability so they are able to move on with their lives with freedom and choice.

We give priority to girls who are 13-15 years of age who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with complex needs, Aboriginal girls and young women, and girls and young women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The Girls Refuge staff provides support through weekly one-on-one meetings to address girls’ individual needs. The service operates from a clear set of rules to ensure the safety of residents and staff.

We are part of a network of services for young people and we utilise these networks to assist girls and young women to secure longer term accommodation with support or, for older girls, independent living.


The Girls Refuge is a not for profit organisation managed by Detour House Inc, which is an incorporated association. Detour House and TGR are governed by a management committee of professional women elected from the community. The management committee sets the direction and a collective sense of purpose for the organisation to fulfil its philosophy and meet its goals.

The Girls Refuge receives most of its funding from NSW Family and Community Services and the generous and ongoing support of community organisations, businesses and individuals cover the costs that aren’t met by government funding.

The Girls Refuge is managed by the General Manager and the Management Committee. 


You can click on the image below to download a copy of our Strategic Plan 2016-2021.



1975 Young People’s Refuge (YPR) is established by a youth worker and volunteers and becomes Sydney’s first youth refuge.

1996 YPR moved from Marrickville to Leichhardt and became a refuge for girls only.

2003 Detour House Inc (DHI) takes over the management and care of Young People’s Refuge.

2005 YPR celebrates 30 years of providing safe accommodation to homeless girls and young women with a party in Annandale Neighbourhood Centre.

2007 Detour House (DH) and YPR receive accreditation through Quality Management Services.

2011 DHI becomes a Registered Community Housing Provider through the NSW Housing Registrar.

2014 NSW Government tenders fail to sufficiently provide for women-only services, threatening YPR and DH with closure. Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre and our management committee forms ‘SOS Women’s Services’ with other women’s services to advocate against the impending closures. SOS Women’s Services embarks on a community campaign and receives support from all four local councils, meets with government ministers and Members of Parliament across the political spectrum and collects 14,000 signatures in four weeks to table in Parliament. In September, the recently named Family and Community Services Minister, the Hon. Gabrielle Upton visits YPR and announces that funding is restored to both services along with the other specialist women’s services in the inner city and that the services will retain their main properties. YPR continues to provide services under the new Homeless Youth Assistance Program (HYAP) formally named the Homeless Support Service for Girls and Young Women with Complex Needs. 

2015 DHI passes the National Regulatory System for Community Housing. Staff and management committee develop a strategic plan. The SOS campaign helps to secure funding for YPR until 2020. 

2016 YPR changes its name to The Girls Refuge (TGR) to reflect the name it became known as during the campaign to save it from closure. The management committee releases the new strategic plan 2016-22.

2017 The management committee starts implementing the new Strategic Plan, commencing with an internal improvement plan and service re-design initiatives to ensure the service is meeting funding requirements, the modern challenges experienced by girls and opportunities for partnerships are being maximised.