News & Events

Emerge calls for an improved Safe at Home strategy

March 12, 2020

Emerge has called for raft of measures to be introduced as part of its submission to the Victorian Government’s homelessness inquiry.

It has set out seven priorities ranging from a public education campaign about homelessness and family violence to explain the link through to calling for an improved Safe at Home strategy so that women and children’s right to stay at home after family violence is viewed as the norm.

Paula Westhead, Emerge Executive Officer, said: “Family violence is the number one cause of homelessness in Victoria. We see the effect of the link every day. Last year, we supported 309 women and children, including 83 who were housed in crisis accommodation and transitional homes and five women and children sleeping rough as they believed this to be a safer option to returning home.”

She said the call for improvements to Safe at Home was crucial.

“Today the national average of women returning home to violence is up to seven times before finally leaving,” Paula said.

“Last year none of the women we supported ended up homeless or returned to the perpetrator. This success story can be replicated everywhere,” she added.

Other priorities include making money available from the Victorian Stamp Duty revenue to house one million Victorians by 2029 through a massive expansion of public housing and social housing.

“We need the Federal Government to commit to funding housing for all Australians, a national long-term, constant and consistent strategy is urgently required, and it should be properly funded,” Paula said.

Other funding which needs to increase is rental support and funding service providers to be funded in multi-year blocks of five years to build multi-disciplinary teams.

Last year’s Anglicare’s affordability snapshot found that throughout Australia, there were only TWO rental properties deemed ‘affordable’ for those on the pitifully low Newstart allowance. This scarcity of affordable housing has significant consequences for women, whose wages are on average lower, and who are more likely to be caring for children.

Further, Victoria’s response to growing rates of homelessness is declining with almost 20,000 Victorians, including those facing family violence, are stuck on the ‘priority’ access list for social housing

“We must not forget that the Royal Commission into Family Violence specifically recommended that women should be able to access stable housing ‘as quickly as possible and with a minimum number of relocations… [and] not be accommodated in motels and other ad hoc accommodation,’” Paula said.

“It is disturbing that women are still facing this scenario three years after the report was handed down.”

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