McAuley CEO on housing and family violence taskforce

McAuley Community Services for Women’s CEO Jocelyn Bignold has been appointed to the Victorian Government’s Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce.

She will join other social and private housing experts to start addressing the housing challenges facing families fleeing family violence.

Jocelyn Bignold said: “We are pleased that our expertise, as Victoria’s only organisation focusing directly on the gender implications of homelessness and family violence, is recognised.”

“This taskforce is vital if we are to remove blockages for women to access family violence crisis accommodation,” she said.

The fear of homelessness is a major reason why many women do not leave violent homes.

A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare this year found that 187,000 people, mostly women and children, accessed homelessness services because of family violence from 2011 to 2014 - making up 36 per cent of the total demand on homelessness services.

Ms Bignold said she was pleased to see that Safe at Home programs were on the agenda.

“Safe at Home programs, both in Australia and internationally, bshow promise in preventing homelessness by ensuring that women and children affected by family violence can remain safely in the home by removing the person who uses violence,” she said.

“Returning home safely is not always possible which is why we have to find ways of being able to rehouse women rapidly out of crisis accommodation. Homelessness should never be the safer option,” she added.

The taskforce will also examine how to implement stronger models to prevent homelessness, including the delivery of Safe at Home approaches, as well as design, oversee and monitor the first 18-month phase of the proposed expanded Family Violence Flexible Support Packages.

“What is also pleasing is that the taskforce has been asked to provide policy advice to guide reform in homelessness, social and affordable housing,” said Ms Bignold.

Other organisations on the taskforce include Council to Homeless Persons, Community Housing Federation of Victoria, Tenants Union of Victoria, Launch Housing, Women’s Housing, Real Estate Institute of Australia and Rural Housing Network.