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Domestic Violence and Homelessness services have called on the NSW Government to rapidly increase the level of social housing to ensure that women and children escaping domestic and family violence can be safely housed.
Over the past year Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) accounted for over one third of homelessness in NSW with Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) helping over 25,284 women and children escaping violence.[i]. This resulted in thousands of dependent children being placed in short-term temporary accommodation living in daily fear of homelessness. Emma is someone who experienced homelessness as a child. She recalls:
“While many people have fond memories of their 13th birthday and school formals, mine was spent in a highly controlling, fearful, abusive, alcohol-fuelled household. My father was the perpetrator, and by the time I was 15, I had enrolled in my fourth high school and lived in 3 refuges with my mum and sister,” said Emma.i
“At the age of 20, this had accumulated to five high schools, five women’s shelters and two social housing properties across Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Women’s refuges provide immediate, temporary accommodation and safety during a time of chaos and confusion. However it was long term social housing that allowed my mother, sister, and I the strength, confidence and stability to rebuild our lives, to heal.” continued Emma.
The impact that homelessness has on children lasts a lifetime. The experience of Domestic and Family Violence, disrupted education and inadequate housing or inappropriate living conditions have a lasting impact on children’s health and wellbeing. Research shows that children who experience homelessness are more likely to experience mental health problems than housed children and are more likely to suffer physical disability, emotional or behavioural problems and have poor academic achievements.
“Every child deserves a good quality, safe and stable home” said Delia Donovan, Interim CEO, Domestic Violence NSW. “Whilst Refuges and temporary crisis accommodation form a critical part of our response to domestic and family violence there additionally needs to be more long-term, safe and sustainable accommodation available to ensure that every child has a good quality, safe and stable home. ”
“The acute lack of social housing in NSW is making this an insurmountable challenge for many women and children escaping domestic and family violence as 99% of private rental accommodation is unaffordable for people on income support.” Continued Donovan.
“With the increasing rates of children and young people homeless in NSW, with many experiencing Domestic and Family violence we need supportive housing models with wrap around support to assist our most vulnerable young people” Without an investment in Australia’s young people we will continue to see those young people falling through the cracks” Said Pam Barker CEO, Yfoundations.
Domestic Violence NSW, Homelessness NSW and Yfoundations, are calling on the NSW Government to introduce measures to make providing social housing for vulnerable families a priority.
Katherine McKernan CEO of Homelessness NSW said “prior to COVID19 we had a homelessness crisis with over 50,000 households on the social housing waiting list. Due to the economic impacts of the pandemic we may see up to 16,000 more people experiencing homelessness in NSW. Investment in social housing would provide much needed safe and long term housing for women and children escaping domestic and family violence and maintain construction jobs. It just makes sense.”
Delia Donovan – Interim CEO, DVNSW 0400 936 192
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence help can be found via:
Information and support
[ii] name has been changed
October 19, 2021
Homelessness NSW is pleased to have worked with NCOSS, CHIA NSW and DV NSW on the Equity Economics report Rebuilding Women's Economic Security - Investing in Social Housing in NSW, which highlights the urgent need to invest in women’s economic security by building more social housing. The Report finds that the pandemic has worsened the housing insecurity of women in NSW with the number of people seeking specialist homelessness services who had experienced family and domestic violence increasing by 7.1 per cent in 2020-21, compared to a 3.2 per cent increase in demand for all specialist homelessness services and 4,812 women currently being forced to stay in an unsafe and violent home, or face homelessness - with up to 2,402 women returning to live with a violent partner because of lack of an affordable alternative, and a further 2,410 homeless because they could not find secure and permanent housing after leaving violence.