Washington Calls For Greater Investment Into Social Housing For DV Victims

Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington is calling for greater investment into social housing to help women escape domestic violence. Photo: Marian Sampson.

 

SOCIAL housing keeps women safe from family violence, and it can expand the economy.

The ‘Nowhere To Go Equity Economics Report’ has found that building new social housing to support people fleeing family violence would more than pay for itself in averted costs and economic spin-off benefits, according to a landmark report to be submitted to the national Women’s Safety Summit.

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Alarmingly, only 3.2 per cent of those in need are receiving the long-term housing solutions they need.

Equity Economics estimates that the lack of long term social housing is leading to 7,690 women a year returning to violent partners and 9,120 women a year becoming homeless.

The figures are alarming: 1 in 6 women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15; 1 in 16 men have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15; a woman was murdered every 10 days by an intimate partner in 2018-19; family and domestic violence costs $22 billion per year; and in 2019-20, across Australia, there were 112,509 family and domestic violence related incidents recorded by police, however due to underreporting, it is estimated that this only represents 40 per cent of actual crime levels.

The report commissioned by Everybody’s Home found family and domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children.

If the Commonwealth Government invested in 16,800 additional social housing units the $7.6 billion cost would be dwarfed by immediate economic benefits of $15.3 billion and the creation of 47,000 new jobs.

It found the additional social housing would generate savings of $122.5 million in a year due to women not returning to a violent partner and a further $257 million in a year in savings due to women not experiencing homelessness after leaving their homes due to family and domestic violence.

“More than 9,000 women and children face homelessness each year after leaving a violent partner. As this report highlights, many simply have nowhere to go.

“Victims and survivors of domestic and family violence are often criticised for returning to their abusive partners but an overwhelming majority have to choose between that and homelessness.”

Stable housing is critical to their safety and wellbeing.

“Ideally, women would stay in their homes and perpetrators would be removed during instances of family violence.

“By building more social housing, the Federal Government can inject billions of dollars into our economy, create tens of thousands of jobs and prove it is serious about helping victims of domestic and family violence.”

Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington told News Of The Area, “This report couldn’t be clearer – social housing not only saves lives but saves the government money as well.

“Women and children escaping domestic violence need somewhere safe to live, otherwise, tragically, they will continue to experience violence.

“This conclusion seems so obvious, yet the government continues to fail to invest in social housing.

“I was sickened to see in this year’s budget, the Berejiklian Government only allocated a miserable $67,000 to social housing for Port Stephens.

“The Liberal National Government knows the risks women and children face due to a lack of social and affordable housing.

“But, it’s just not a priority for them,” she said.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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