Reducing violence against women and their children through long-term affordable housing and income support
Domestic violence victims and their children are at risk of returning to violent partners, or even homelessness due to Australia’s chronic shortage of long-term, affordable housing and inadequate income support, new research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute has found.
Immediate responses by crisis services to domestic and family violence were found to be effective and timely but ultimately constrained by resources and growing demand. Crisis services could only rarely refer victims from crisis shelters and refuges to stable, secure and long-term accommodation due to inadequate supply.
A severe lack of long-term, affordable housing is making it extremely difficult for women and children to live safe and well in the long term.
The research reviewed domestic and family violence-related policies and initiatives in each state and territory, interviewed 28 women who left their homes due to violence and conducted focus group discussions with domestic and family violence groups and services in NSW and Tasmania. Many women considered returning to violent partners because it was perceived to be safer than living in unstable and unsafe housing or facing homelessness.
The report identified private rental market subsidies as the “policy of preference” when it comes to housing assistance but the researchers identified this as problematic because it was less effective in tight, competitive housing markets. Thus the report warns against a single policy response.
The researchers argue that it is important that governments invest more in a range of housing options. If governments want to genuinely address violence against women, they need to look at the availability of long-term affordable housing and decent income support.