An investment in social housing for domestic violence survivors could save Australia billions
12 July 2021 at 3:28 pm
New research makes an economic and social case for investment in social housing
More than 7,600 women a year are returning to violent partners, and 9,120 women a year are becoming homeless after escaping violent homes because they have nowhere else to go, a new report estimates.
The report shows that if the government were to invest $7.6 billion in 17,000 new homes it would not only provide women and children with safe and affordable housing, it would also create 47,000 jobs and provide savings of $15.3 billion from reducing the costs of homelessness.
Homelessness has been found to increase the costs of health, justice, welfare and child protection services.
The Nowhere To Go report was commissioned by the Everybody’s Home campaign, which pushes for a better, fairer housing system, and is set to be submitted to the federal government’s National Women’s Safety Summit later this month.
Kate Colvin, the national spokesperson for the Everybody’s Home campaign, said the research made a compelling economic and social case for an investment that would keep tens of thousands of Australian women and children safe.
“More than 9,000 women and children face homelessness each year after leaving a violent partner. As this report highlights, many simply have nowhere to go,” Colvin said.
“Victims and survivors of domestic and family violence are often criticised for returning to their abusive partners but an overwhelming majority have to choose between that and homelessness.”
Colvin points out that providing stable housing for those fleeing an unsafe home environment is critical to their safety and wellbeing.
“Ideally, women would stay in their homes and perpetrators would be removed during instances of family violence. The harsh reality is that women need to leave to find safety,” she said.
“By building more social housing, the federal government can inject billions of dollars into our economy, create tens of thousands of jobs and prove it is serious about helping victims of domestic and family violence.”
The report also found that building additional social housing would create savings of $122.5 million a year due to women not returning to a violent partner and a further $257 million a year due to women not experiencing homelessness after leaving a violent home.
An increase in domestic and family violence during the COVID-19 pandemic
While the report was based on pre-pandemic incidences, the situation over the last 12 months has only got worse.
In May 2020, the Australian Institute of Criminology surveyed over 15,000 Australians and found there had been a large increase in women experiencing domestic abuse for the first time.
Comparing March 2020 and March 2021, there was an almost 6 per cent increase in the number of women seeking specialist homelessness services.
Australia’s domestic and family violence crisis:
- One in six women has experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15.
- One in 16 men has experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15.
- A woman was murdered every 10 days by an intimate partner in 2018-19.
- In 2019-20, across Australia, there were 112,509 family and domestic violence-related incidents recorded by police. Due to underreporting, it is estimated that this only represents 40 per cent of actual crime levels.
Read a full copy of the report here.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call 1800 RESPECT.