CHP: Victorian women and children may still flee family violence into homelessness

Peak body for homelessness in Victoria, Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) is today submitting evidence to the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor demonstrating that key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence to end homelessness for people escaping family violence have not been met.

Peak body for homelessness in Victoria, Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) is today submitting evidence to the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor demonstrating that key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence to end homelessness for people escaping family violence have not been met.

Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations not delivered include:

  • Recommendation 018: Give priority to victims gaining stable housing as quickly as possible … with a minimum number of relocations, [so women and children] are not accommodated in motels and other ad hoc accommodation, and spend on average no longer than six weeks in refuge and crisis accommodation.
  • Recommendation 019: Establish a Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Task Force … which should … quantify the number of additional social housing units required for family violence victims who are unable to gain access to and sustain private rental accommodation … [and] plan for the statewide rollout of … the social housing required.

Jenny Smith, CEO of CHP says, “Last year alone, over 11,500 people fleeing family violence approached homelessness services and of that group, 62 per cent of them remained without a home after seeking support.

“It’s been more than four years since the conclusion of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, and despite some positive Victorian Government commitments to build social housing, social housing growth has not been enough to stop the proportion of social housing in Victoria going backwards.

“While our system prioritises women and children escaping from family violence to get into stable housing, the hard truth is that there just isn’t enough social housing available to safely house everyone.

“The Royal Commission’s recommendations made clear that women and children should not be placed into motels or other ad hoc accommodation, but an inadequate number of refuge places, and a lack of alternative safe and affordable accommodation, means hotels, motels or caravan parks are often the only options available.

“Long wait lists to access social housing mean women get trapped in temporary accommodation. Even with additional crisis accommodation resources, funding can run out before a social housing place is available, forcing women and children to return to perpetrators, or to couch surf with family and friends. 

“The Commission confirmed that lack of access to safe affordable long-term housing is a major reason that victims of family violence often return to violent partners and households. No one should have to make the decision between remaining in an unsafe home or experiencing homelessness.

“During this unprecedented health crisis, the Victorian Government has proved that they have the ability and capacity to act quickly and get people the support and access to longer term housing needed.

“In order to help those escaping family violence have the best chance at successfully rebuilding their lives, the Victorian Government needs to build more social housing and the Federal Government needs to match the state’s effort.

Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.

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