High hopes for Royal Commission recommendations

As many of us will be celebrating Easter this weekend, we at McAuley Community Services for Women, hope to make the occasion a happy one for the women and children who are in our family violence and homelessness services.

We have received Easter eggs from our supporters to give out, particularly to children, who will have the chance to hunt for eggs and enjoy some normality.

On Tuesday 29 March, the Royal Commission into Family Violence is expected to deliver its recommendations. We await these with hope, not least because the Andrews Government has pledged to fund every recommendation that is made.

When I reflect back on our submission, the needs remain the same; access to appropriate and timely housing being one critical element. As things are now, many women are unable to plan to leave a violent situation safely and can only be helped if they are in imminent danger. Others are using all their resources; including holiday; long-service leave and superannuation to pay for expensive rental because it is unsafe to remain in their homes.

Family violence remains a leading cause of homelessness for women, children and young people.

Our submission reported that we need a range of housing options to suit women’s differing needs, at the time that they need it, from crisis; to temporary refuge and safe, affordable permanent housing. We have also called for resourcing to support women much earlier in their experience and to ensure that children and young people’s needs are specifically addressed.

We want to see a responsive employment program so that women can be supported to access and stay in meaningful jobs. We need a swift and thorough legal response for all people accessing the justice and legal systems; we need to build community understanding of the tactics of abuse, particularly of power and control , and we need flexibility of funding to be able to address the needs of different community groups.

Since lodging our submission, we have continued to advocate to Victorian politicians to support our work in addressing women’s homelessness and family violence.

It is crucial that politicians and policy makers understand the ways that women, men, children and young people experience homelessness and family violence differently so that limited resources can be targeted most effectively and equitably.

Our final call is for State and Federal Governments to report back to the public on progress of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women. Australian women deserve that public commitment and accountability - and all Australians would benefit.

I wish all of you and your families a peaceful Easter and let us all anticipate a ‘new beginning’ on Tuesday for women and children experiencing family violence, and for the services supporting them.