In Victoria, half of the people currently experiencing homelessness are women and one-sixth are children under 12. Justice Connect's Women's Homelessness Prevention Project is working to keep women and their children in safe and secure housing.
In Victoria, half of the people currently experiencing homelessness are women and one-sixth are children under 12. Sadly, family violence is the most common cause of homelessness in our state.
95 per cent of the women accessing the service report an experience of family violence in the past 10 years. Women and children affected by family violence are at an increased risk of homelessness for a number of reasons. These reasons include being forced to leave their home for their safety; struggling to afford their rent or mortgage repayments after a perpetrator has been removed; and mental health issues as the result of being subjected to physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse.
There are currently close to 35,000 people on the state-wide public housing wait list, and less than 1 per cent of private rentals are vacant in Metropolitan Melbourne. This lack of affordable housing increases the risk of victims becoming homeless if they leave their current un-safe home. The threat of homelessness deters many women from leaving violent partners, putting them at risk of further abuse.
Over the last year, the integrated approach of linking legal and social work services at the Women’s Homelessness Prevention Project has proven highly effective in preventing homelessness amongst women and their children. 62 women, with 102 children in their care, have been provided with legal representation and social work support, and 81 per cent of finalised matters have resulted in women maintaining safe housing or resolving a tenancy legal issue that was a barrier to accessing safe housing.