Domestic Violence Driving Homelessness
9 December 2015 at 11:26 am
Domestic and family violence was directly responsible for one-third of all Australians who used specialist homelessness services over the last two years, new government figures have revealed.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 187,000 of all the people who accessed homelessness services between the 2011-12 and 2013-14 financial years were adults and children seeking assistance because of family violence.
The AIHW said overwhelmingly the number of people facing homelessness because of domestic violence were women.
“Nine in 10 adult clients (aged 18 and over) seeking assistance for domestic and family violence were female,” the AIHW said.
“The AIHW identified 520,000 Australians who accessed specialist homelessness services (SHS). Of these, over one-third (or 187,000) were adults and children seeking assistance for reasons of domestic and family violence.”
A breakdown of the figures released by the AIHW showed that the majority of people accessing SHS because of domestic or family violence were women with children, 45,404, and young women presenting alone, 23,805.
Another 20,000 were Indigenous women, while 17,000 were women from non-English speaking backgrounds and 7,000 were women over 55-years-old.
The AIHW also said that homelessness service providers were failing to keep up with demand.
“One of the greatest difficulties homelessness services face is finding long term housing solutions for clients,” it said.
“Over 90 per cent of requests by domestic and family violence clients for long term accommodation were unable to be met by services.
“Young women presenting alone experiencing domestic and family violence were the least likely of all domestic and family violence clients to have requests met for either short term accommodation or assistance to sustain housing tenure.”
Council to Homeless Persons CEO, Jenny Smith, told the ABC that the “nexus between family violence and women and children becoming homeless” presented a bleak outlook.
“If you think about it, when women and children realise that they actually have to leave the home and you look at the lack of planned response that we have as a community in terms of making sure that there is a supply of low cost housing, then women and children find themselves staying in very cheap motels, rooming houses, couch surfing with friends, sleeping in the back of cars, in a whole range of temporary accommodation, and that’s really a very poor outcome,” Smith said.
“We don’t actually have a plan for producing a supply of low cost housing in our communities.
“It’s a very poor situation in which we find ourselves.”