Victorian family violence victims left homeless after seeking help
10 March 2020 at 4:44 pm
Community leaders are urging the Victorian government to take action on a social housing shortfall leaving family violence victims homeless
Homelessness caused by family violence has grown in the four years since a Victorian royal commission urged the state government to prioritise giving victims stable housing as quickly as possible.
This has led the leaders of nearly 80 family violence, homelessness and community groups to send a joint letter to the Victorian premier demanding action on the issue by fully implementing royal commission recommendations.
Australia’s first Royal Commission into Family Violence handed down 227 recommendations in March 2016 to help reduce the impact of family violence in the community.
But new data shows that 62 per cent of people (11,565) experiencing domestic or family violence who were already homeless when they got help were still homeless after receiving support in 2018-19.
This compared to 59 per cent (9,260) of people who remained homeless in 2015-16.
Kate Colvin, a spokesperson for the Council to Homeless Persons, said four years on from the royal commission, more women and children were becoming homeless after family violence than ever before.
She said this was “purely and simply” because there was not enough social housing.
“Immediately following the royal commission the Victorian government invested in a Family Violence Housing Blitz that included some new social housing among other initiatives, but has not continued to build enough new social housing to keep up with demand,” Colvin said.
Victoria has the lowest proportion of social housing of any state or territory in Australia, making up just 3.2 per cent of the state’s housing compared with the national average of 4.5 per cent.
Recent figures suggest there are 52,500 households on the state’s social housing waiting list.
Recommendation 18 of the royal commission called for the government to “give priority to victims gaining stable housing as quickly as possible”.
The joint letter said that family violence-related homelessness was less able to be resolved in 2019 than it was in 2016.
“As leaders of homelessness and family violence services and other concerned organisations, we ask you to finish the great work that was started by the Royal Commission into Family Violence, by delivering the social housing supply needed for women to escape violence and to recover,” the letter said.
“By fully implementing the royal commission recommendations as promised, and investing in adequate social housing, we can break the link between family violence and homelessness in Victoria.”
Alison Macdonald, spokesperson for Domestic Violence Victoria, added that a lack of social housing was putting vulnerable women at risk.
“We know that becoming homeless is one of the most common reasons women and children are forced to return to violent relationships,” Macdonald said.