Womenspace will facilitate ongoing opportunities for women to educate and enrich themselves in a safe, supportive environment by:
(a) providing a venue for women to meet and to explore women’s spirituality
(b) enhancing the individual wellbeing of women who are geographically, spiritually, educationally or culturally isolated
(c) responding to particular needs relating to women’s life experiences
(d) developing programs which assist the personal growth of individuals
(e) providing information to resource women in the development of their strengths and their role and place in the world
(f) celebrating women’s spirituality through rituals congruent with their lived experience.
WOMENSPACE BEGAN IN EARLY 1997 WITH A SMALL GROUP OF WOMEN WHO WONDERED, “WHY DO WE FEEL AS IF THERE’S SOMETHING MISSING FOR WOMEN IN BRISBANE? WHAT IF THERE WAS A PLACE FOR WOMEN TO SHARE THEIR STORIES? WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT IF WE COULD CREATE A SPACE JUST FOR WOMEN? I WONDER IF THERE ARE OTHER WOMEN WHO WOULD BE INTERESTED?”
Slowly their thoughts emerged. They continued to meet and to dream of what might be.
In September 1997 this small group held a public meeting to see if there were any other women in Brisbane who shared a similar dream. They called it a “Women’s Space meeting”. They found that there were eighty other women dreaming the same dream!!!
Out of that meeting a formal Coordinating Committee was formed, which continued to meet monthly to further the dream. When the organisation was incorporated, the only name possible was that which had been used for so long, and so it became officially Women’s Space Association Inc. or Womenspace.
Within weeks of the public meeting came an exciting and wonderful offer from a group of women to buy and renovate a place for the “Women’s Space”. The search was on for a place that met the requirements of the City Council, was easily accessible, and fulfilled the women’s dream.
With the assistance of a very helpful female real estate agent, finally the ideal Womenspace emerged. In August 1999, the Presentation Sisters purchased the property at 12-14 Homebush Rd, Kedron, Brisbane, with a view to leasing it to Womenspace. This property had been a fascinating old bakery, shop and residence.
Then began the consultations with architects, builders, access experts and a wide range of women, to ensure that the buildings are not only beautiful, but maintain the sense of earthiness and sacredness which is the essence of Womenspace.
The official opening of Womenspace was on Saturday 25th November 2000, and a ritual of blessing and dedication was held the next day on Sunday 26th.
We are always immensely grateful to the Presentation Sisters for the rent-free use of the Kedron property. Without this support and that of the very generous Mercy Sisters, Womenspace would never have become a reality.
Over the years, the old building gradually became structurally unsound to the point that in late-2009 it was declared unsafe for occupation and we had to leave these premises. There was a great sense of sadness at leaving this beautiful place that had been our home for almost ten years. However, we picked ourselves up and with enthusiasm, passion and hope, we embarked upon the next stage of our journey where we began to look for new premises. We found a welcoming space at Heritage Hall, Wooloowin where we met for two years for most of our events. Strangely enough, this building developed similar problems with structural issues and was closed to use, so again, we had to look for a new meeting place for our gatherings. In 2012, we began using meeting rooms at public libraries at Grange, Chermside and Ashgrove libraries.
In the second half of 2011, The Jani Haenke Charitable Trust offered to purchase a property for Womenspace so we could once again have a permanent home. We searched for 18 months for a suitable property that met the correct council zoning regulations as well as the requirements of Womenspace. We finally found a property at Sandgate in early 2013 and after a few months of negotiations, purchased the property at 9 -11 Second Ave, Sandgate. Settlement was on 17th July and since then, members have been working hard to establish our new home in this lovely bayside suburb.
Womenspace is well-established as a respected member of the Sandgate community. Many women benefit from the wonderful Womenspace experience.
Contact our coordinator
Renovations have progressed throughout 2015, to create a self-contained space under the house, where we can hold events. This space is accessible at ground level and will soon be access all abilities, containing a separate kitchen and toilet.
This space will be available for hire to women’s groups for workshops, meetings, courses and more.
In order to complete this project, we have established a Building Fund and invite you to make a donation of whatever you are able, towards this project. We have already received a number of very generous donations and thank all of those generous souls, making this dream, our reality.
Contributions may be made to our Suncorp account:
BSB: 484 799
Account Number: 07910 8238
Account Name: Women’s Space Association Inc.
Please use the reference word, ‘Building’ and email firstname.lastname@example.org if a receipt is required.
With our thanks and gratitude,
The Board of Womenspace
2017 – 2018
Immediate Past Chair
Board Member and Property Coordinator
Honorary Life Members
Jani Haenke Charitable Trust
Photograph: Angus Martin
Janice Helen (Jani) Haenke (1940–2009) grew up in Ipswich, Queensland, where her family had interests in coal mining. She was educated at the Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School and the University of Queensland, graduating in 1963 with a Bachelor of Arts.
Jani trained as a librarian and completed her diploma at the University of New South Wales in 1964. She worked at various institutions in Australia and the United Kingdom. Her final position before she retired was as librarian for the Mount Stromlo Observatory in the Australian Capital Territory.
In her personal life, Jani lived modestly and maintained high ethical principles. All her life she was a generous donor to conservation and cultural causes, often as an anonymous giver.
In accordance with her abiding interests and the provisions of her will, the Jani Haenke Charitable Trust was established to support:
* organisations that provide spiritual care
* conservation and preservation of the environment
* arts and cultural organisations, and overseas aid.
Women’s Space Association Inc. is just one of the beneficiaries of Jani’s legacy. The Jani Haenke Charitable Trust purchased 9-11 Second Avenue for Womenspace, in July 2013. Two months later in September, we opened our doors to welcome women once again after being without a home for four years, since the property in Kedron we called home for ten years was unexpectedly declared structurally unsafe and demolished.
A copy of a booklet detailing the history of the Jani Haenke Charitable Trust, is available to read at the office of Womenspace, in Sandgate.
“Our deep and sincere thanks go to the Trustees for their faith in Womenspace to provide a sacred and nurturing space for women and for their patience while we located the right property. We are enormously grateful to Jani Haenke for her foresight and generosity and to the Trustees for their diligent work in carrying out her wishes.” Glenys Peacock, Coordinator at Womenspace 2003-2014.