AHURI NEWS

Royal Commission into Family Violence supports 'leaving the violence, but staying safe at home'

Key recommendations from Royal Commission into Family Violence draw upon AHURI research

6 April 2016

The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognises that on-going housing support is important for people escaping family violence so as to prevent them becoming homeless. Indeed, 22 per cent of people seeking help from specialist homelessness services were escaping family violence.

The Commission's recommendations include increasing the number and range of crisis accommodation service models; providing long term rental and mortgage subsidies for victims; and giving priority to supporting family violence victims to remain safely in their own home.

The Commission referred to AHURI research that examined Staying Home Leaving Violence (SHLV)-style schemes that help women and children who are escaping family violence to stay in their own home. The rationale is that, when possible, it is the perpetrator who should leave and the women and children given help to remain safely in their home. This alleviates pressure on the homelessness system, saving the community financial and other resources. It also provides a better outcome for children, who, if they become homeless, can suffer the trauma of disrupted schooling and friendships; are more likely to exhibit significant psychological distress; and have more health problems (including poorer nutrition and lower rates of immunisation).

... on-going housing support is important for people escaping family violence so as to prevent them becoming homeless.

The SHLV schemes involve collaboration and a degree of integration between the police, courts and SHLV staff. The SHLV teams conduct risk assessments to assist the client in deciding whether to remain in the home (such as how aggressive the ex-partner is likely to be), ensure necessary protection orders are in place and conduct safety audits (such as installing security doors or ‘panic’ alarms), as well as providing ongoing emotional support, sometimes for several years.

The SHLV schemes also recognise that affordability affects just how long women and children can remain in their home. For women in public and community housing, some jurisdictions allow joint tenancies to be converted to single tenancies in the women’s names, with or without the ex-partner’s consent. In addition, rent subsidies are provided to assist women enter, or remain in, the private rental sector, thereby taking pressure off the waiting list for public and community housing.

22%

of people seeking help from specialist homelessness services were escaping family violence.

Spinney, A. (2012) Home and safe? Policy and practice innovations to prevent women and children who have experienced domestic and family violence from becoming homeless, AHURI Final Report No. 196, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne, https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/196.