Housing Partnership a ‘Game Changer’
23 March 2016 at 10:15 am
A national corporate community rapid rehousing partnership for women and children fleeing family violence has exceeded expectations, according to an assessment to mark the initiative’s first anniversary.
The partnership has assisted over 560 people across 204 households, including 357 children – well above its initial expectations of assisting 250 people in its first year.
The partnership, between one of Melbourne’s largest housing and homelessness agencies Launch Housing and REA Group (the parent company of realestate.com.au), is championing how the Not for Profit and corporate sectors can collaborate on finding solutions to homelessness.
Australia’s housing affordability crisis is one of the key barriers to women and children leaving violent homes, according to Launch Housing Deputy CEO and Director of Services, Dr Heather Holst.
“When REA Group approached us we knew that this kind of partnership could be a game changer. In just 12 months we have worked with partner agencies nationally to help hundreds of women and children who might otherwise have slept in cars or in overcrowded and unsuitable accommodation. Even worse they might have continued to endure damaging and in some cases life threatening abuse and violence at home,” Dr Holst said.
“More than 30 per cent of the people we assist every year at our frontline services are women and children who are unable to remain in the family home because of abuse and violence.”
Dr Holst said the partnership with REA Group and Launch Housing, acting as the lead agency, provided a great model of how the Not for Profit and corporate sectors can work together to make a huge difference in local communities.
“I think the funding we received from REA Group – around $600,000 over three years – is a significant philanthropic investment by a major corporation in Australia. We have partners in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and the ACT who receive funding to assist women and children fleeing family violence,” she said.
“This brokerage funding can be used for the most pressing need a family group has. It typically funds bonds and rent in advance for private rental, debt relief, for families who have fallen into arrears, and purchase of furniture and whitegoods.
“Because we have been able to put something in place quickly and demonstrate how it works and that [information] actually fed into the Victorian Family Violence Royal Commission, we were able to give evidence around this fund and we are hoping that this may influence what they think is part of the solution to the family violence problem that they are considering now.
“It’s perhaps more of a game changer than usual because of that timing.
“But really, it is that we quickly agreed on the solution and with a partner, just got it going on the ground. The partnership has allowed us to get it into the other states.
“It is a whole lot quicker than the way you normally have to wait until funding is available and using funding that is available and apply for it. It’s all quite slow and while that is understandable with government probity considerations something like this partnership can really get going quickly and demonstrate itself and either prove itself or not.”
“Our partnership with Launch Housing is not a cause related marketing initiative, it’s an authentic partnership that feeds directly into our purpose of empowering people to make property simple, efficient and stress-free,” REA’s Community Partnerships and Engagement Manager, Jessica Christie said.
“If we are not able to achieve the company’s purpose, if we’re not supporting our most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community – for example people at risk of homelessness – there’s nothing simple, efficient or stress-free about property,” Christie said.
“That’s how we landed on the area of homelessness and then it was through a series of focus groups with experts on the area, that representatives from each part of our business narrowed it down to women and children at risk of homelessness as a result of family violence.”
Christie said having a partnership which is central to your company’s purpose is a great place to start.
“As a company, we put a lot of work in pinpointing the social issue or cause we wanted to focus our efforts on and while we have a very talented and passionate bunch of people working at REA, we also recognised that we’re certainly not experts on the issue of homelessness or family violence. That’s why we partnered with Launch Housing, as they know a huge amount about this area and the best way of addressing it,” she said.
“We don’t tell Launch Housing what to do with that fund, other than specifying the group we’re trying to help from experiencing homelessness. They share updates with us around the number of people supported, the areas the funding goes towards and the impact of it – but beyond that, it’s theirs to administer.”