Safe@HomeOctober 28, 2021
In 2020, McAuley made the decision to escalate the conversation about and focus on the correlation between, homelessness and family violence. Working with stakeholders from across the sector, we began to lead a project to examine what more can be done to further an approach called ‘Safe at Home.’
‘Safe at Home’ would mean that wherever possible, women and children who have experienced family violence could stay in their homes, while the perpetrators must leave.
Routinely women and children end up with all the disadvantages of having to leave their homes to be safe from violence. We know that when they do so, they leave behind a network of friends, family and neighbours, the children’s schooling is disrupted, they have to leave jobs unexpectedly, and they can begin to struggle financially. With housing in short supply and so unaffordable, they often end up couch-surfing, staying in a series of emergency motels, living in cars, and homeless.
McAuley sees ‘Safe at Home’ as a social justice issue and a means of preventing further violence, disadvantage and homelessness. This project directly relates to Recommendation 13 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
‘The Victorian Government give priority to supporting victims in safely remaining in, or returning to, their own homes and communities through the expansion of Safe at Home-type programs across Victoria’.’
After five years of investment by the Victorian Government, the system is slowly coming together as intended. ‘Flexible Support Packages’ and ‘Personal Safety Initiatives’ are examples of options now available to support women and children to stay home. Despite this work, women and children continue to turn up in homelessness services because they’ve left family violence. The number of adult women who presented to specialist family violence, or general homelessness services during 2019-2020, is 32,405. It’s clear there is a lot more work to do.
This project gathers key stakeholders from across the family violence system, including Victoria Police,
Magistrates’ Courts, Family Violence and Peak Bodies, SafeSteps, No to Violence, Specialist Services, Government Departments, Family Safety Victoria, and Universities. This group is mapping the system to identify the barriers and enablers to progressing a safe at home response for victim- survivors, with the view to determining what actions can be taken that will make a real difference.
The project involves consultation with women with lived experience to ensure that the system is adapted to their needs. This has already given us valuable information about what really happens on the ground and where things aren’t working well.
We have been able to commit resources to this endeavour with support from JB HiFi, Baker Foundation, Blue Sky Foundation, Family Safety Victoria and the Rotary Club of Brighton North.
We hope this project will not only raise the profile of this issue but will also drive the change required to deliver positive outcomes for the women and children experiencing family violence.
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