There's No Place Like Home

Many of you will have watched the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Perhaps, like me, you find yourself at the end of it, watching Dorothy and, with her, click your heels together three times while saying “there’s no place like home?”

Those words resonate through my work at McAuley. It is what drives me, the staff, volunteers and the Board, in our work to assist women who are homeless.

Everything we do – whether it is assisting women in our crisis centre, refuges or at McAuley House – is focused on making sure that women have somewhere safe to live once they leave us. Without a place like home, it is almost impossible to start afresh.

Homeless Persons' Week 
Homeless Persons' Week runs throughout Australia from 4 to 10 August. McAuley will be marking the occasion at Federation Square on 7 and 8 August. There we will have a couch, especially stenciled for us by the well known-community artist Julie Shiels, to make the point that women who are homeless are largely out of sight and mind.

This is because, on the whole, women do not sleep on the streets. The Age recently reported that there are currently 20 women rough sleeping in Melbourne’s CBD. Instead women couch surf from friend to friend or sleep in their cars. That is the nature of women’s homelessness.

We invite you to come down to Federation Square to learn more about our work.

Play Lady in Court
Another initiative that McAuley is pioneering is Victoria’s first Court Play Lady which you can read about in this issue of News from McAuley. We are grateful to the Barr Foundation for funding this vital program.

The aim is to have the ‘play lady’ look after children whose mother is attending Sunshine Magistrates Court on family violence matters.

A Gender Lens
We know directly from our work that the link between family violence and homelessness is indisputable.

This is reflected in where women go when they leave the crisis service. For instance in June, of the 30 women who left our crisis accommodation, 21 left to go to insecure accommodation and so remained homeless; 10 went to refuges, five to family and friends, six to emergency housing. Three returned home regardless of the consequences.

Their reasons were varied. However, for those that returned home or went to family and friends, the reason was the same. They had had enough of staying in motels or refuges and were not able to afford private rental accommodation.

McAuley is women-run for women. We know what women who are homeless need from housing. They need safe, secure and affordable housing.

As we near the Victorian election, we will roll out our campaign. We will call on all electoral candidates to tell us what they will do about homelessness in Victoria.

We will ask them to apply a gender lens to policies and funding so that women who are homeless do not lose out.

If you would like to receive postcards and information about the campaign, please email us at

After all, there’s no place like home.

Jocelyn Bignold
Chief Executive Officer