Homelessness prevention for women and children who have experienced domestic and family violence: innovations in policy and practice
This research project investigated ‘joined up’ approaches to homelessness prevention for women and children who have experienced domestic and family violence.
Project Number: 50602
Research Theme: Homelessness
Project Leader: Spinney, Angela
Funding Year: 2010
Research Centre: Swinburne-Monash
Two case studies from England and Australia were compared to investigate ‘joined up’ approaches to preventing homelessness in women and children who have experienced domestic and family violence. The approaches consist of housing, judicial and support systems and services working together to help the women and children stay in their homes.
The first stage literature review established that the most effective homelessness prevention measures often combine legal, judicial, housing and welfare policy and practices in an integrated manner. These measures include:
- Legal/judicial: improving police responses to breaches of court orders, as well as providing court-based family violence advocacy services, domestic violence courts and law reform.
- Housing: private rental brokerage programs for women who have experienced family violence, 24-hour response services by housing agencies, Staying Home Leaving Violence (SHLV) type schemes and perpetrator accommodation.
- Welfare: outreach services, ‘sanctuary’ type schemes, emergency support, personal development and confidence-building assistance.
The second stage case studies showed that Sanctuary schemes in England and SHLV schemes in New South Wales both involve a degree of collaboration and integration between police, courts and other welfare and housing support services practiced in helping woman and children who have experienced domestic and family violence stay in their homes.
The key findings are as follows:
- Integrative approaches such as SHLV type schemes have an important role to play in preventing homelessness for women and children who have experienced domestic and family violence; this is true for women living in very different situations in very different areas of Australia.
- Australia should provide homelessness prevention schemes that are as extensive as the current provision of refuge and crisis accommodation.
- Schemes should use non-restrictive eligibility practices, include an element of social marketing and provide both practical and emotional support for clients.
The report finds that legislation, legal and judicial practices, practical and emotional support services, affordability issues, and integrated domestic and family violence programs can influence women’s decisions to remain in their home following the removal of a violent partner. These programs can increase women’s confidence in their ability to remain home safely, as well as their actual safety.
A companion study, Reducing the need for women and children to make repeated use of refuge and other crisis accommodation, has been funded by the Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) through the Homelessness Research Partnership Agreement. The two projects have been designed to work together and, in order to aid the reader, some information has been replicated in the Final Reports of each project.
AHURI events involving this project
- Improving service interventions for people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness — Sydney, Mon 6 May 2013
Media mentioning this research
- White Ribbon Day media release (The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP)
Positioning Paper: No. 140: Homelessness prevention for women and children who have experienced domestic and family violence: innovations in policy and practice
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