This research focuses on the housing needs of Indigenous women and children who are severely over-represented in rates of both homelessness and domestic and family violence (DFV).
In 2017–18, Indigenous people made up 3.2 per cent of the Australian population yet comprised 25 per cent of Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) clients. Within this group, domestic and family violence was the second most common reason for homelessness (25%). While it is well established that Indigenous domestic and family violence needs to be understood as both a cause and effect of social disadvantage and intergenerational trauma, the crowding that results from housing shortages also plays a critical role.
The decision to stay or leave is complex for women with children. Women are often in an untenable position when it comes to establishing safety for their children. Under current legislation inadequate or insecure housing or unsafe homes including exposure to domestic violence are reasons for removal of children. But if shortages in crisis and long-term housing mean she cannot find a safe home away from the perpetrator, she risks child removal whether she leaves or stays.
For policy makers, developing culturally appropriate responses to Indigenous domestic and family violence and improving integration between housing, domestic and family violence and child protection services should reduce rates of Indigenous women’s injury and death, as well as rates of Indigenous children in out-of-home care. There is also an urgent need to increase crisis and transitional accommodation and to increase social housing stock.