New $11 Million Building Has Begun
Building work is now underway in Pickett Street in Footscray for our new Women’s Accommodation Facility. The $11 million building is Victoria’s first purpose-built accommodation for women who are homeless, many as a result of family violence and health issues. It is due to open late next year.
The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy has invested $7 million and we have requested the additional $4 million from the previous and current Victorian governments. No money has been forthcoming. This is in spite of the fact that government investment can be made over a number of years, and that the Victorian Government has said it wants to support risk free, shovel ready projects.
The need to invest in housing infrastructure is obvious with just one of our local Western homelessness entry points seeing over 7,800 people in the first ¾ of this year alone (3,011 were accompanying children). An April snapshot revealed 78% of women being supported by homelessness services in the Western Metropolitan Region have experienced family violence.
Over the past 25 years, we have developed a housing model which provides accommodation and tailored support seven days a week including afterhours and week-ends. It is a proven model that fits within the spectrum of supported housing well researched by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.
The model is housing with a purpose. It takes into account how best to support vulnerable and marginalised women, linking them into services they need, providing them with safe, sustainable and socially inclusive housing, giving them time to become stronger and more independent before moving into permanent housing.
McAuley Community Services for Women is Victoria’s only organisation specialising in housing and support services for women who are homeless, either as a consequence of escaping family violence or mental illness, or a combination of both. We have access to 80 beds, including transitional housing properties, across Melbourne, making us the largest housing provider in Victoria focusing on women.
Our vision at Pickett St is to double the number of beds over the next few years in partnership with housing managers and providers. We are also ready to roll out our services and programs across regional cities, including 24/7 safe houses.
To do this we need investment from the Government. We are ready now.