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More families and more children than ever before
November 26, 2021
Last year Emerge worked with more children across all its services than ever before. It supported 89 children in crisis and transitional accommodation, an increase of over 185% increase on children supported by the service in the previous year.
“To say the demand has been steady is an understatement,” Michal, Refuge Team Leader, said.
The three bedroom units at the refuge accommodate up to six children a unit.
“As a result, we have had referrals to our refuge for large families because we are one of the few services able to accommodate the number of children accompanying their mothers,” Michal said.
Last year, over 60% of children were aged three and eight years’ old.
Of the families who exited crisis accommodation last year, only 18% managed to secure private rental accommodation, with over 64% relying on crisis or supported accommodation options to transition out of refuge.
“As we know, there is a chronic shortage of social and public housing in Melbourne,” Paula said.
“It is something that we, along with other family violence services, are discussing with the Victorian government.”
The Royal Commission into Family Violence highlighted the shortfall in affordable housing options available to women and children escaping family violence.
It articulated the vital nature of safe, stable and affordable housing and how a lack of affordable housing options can exacerbate trauma, disrupt social and economic participation, adversely affect health and wellbeing and sometimes leave little option but to return to a violent partner.
But the shortage of housing and the large numbers of children in refuge are not the only trends that Emerge has seen over the past year.
“It has not just been an increase in demand but also the year has seen a rise in complex cases,” Michal added.
Of the 36 families Emerge supported in crisis accommodation this year, the complexities of their needs have changed on a month to month (or even week to week, day to day) basis.
During their time with Emerge, a family may be subpoenaed to Family Court, discover multiple debts taken out in their name, have a child diagnosed with a disability – which can all add increased stressors to their mental health increasing challenges in other areas of their recovery
“Over 88% of our families presented with either medium or high needs during their time with Emerge,” Michal said.