Risking Homelessness in order to be Safe is Not Right

We are already well into a new year of projects and plans at McAuley Community Services for Women and we look forward to sharing news of developments with you throughout 2015. 

We have hit the ground running and so have many of the people who support our work, particularly those planning events in the next two months. We have the Fed Up Lunch on February 21, the TwentyFour/7 Cocktail Party on March 5 and the International Women’s Day lunch hosted by Elizabeth Grossi on March 11. There is news of some of these events in our February newsletter. 

Australia Day honours announced on January 26 shone a spotlight on the impact of family violence in our community. We congratulate Australian of the Year Victorian Rosie Batty who has become a passionate advocate for improved services and supports for women and children suffering family violence. Rosie has made it clear she wants family violence on the agenda of policy makers, politicians and the community.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the proposed Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Family Violence on January 19. Justice Marcia Neave will chair the Royal Commission with Patricia Faulkner and Tony Nicholson serving as Deputy Commissioners. The proposed Terms of Reference task them with finding the most effective ways to:
•Prevent family violence
•Improve early intervention to identify and protect those at risk
•Support victims
•Make perpetrators accountable
•Improve the way that Government and society work together.

McAuley Community Services for Women will make a submission to the Royal Commission which will make the link between family violence and homelessness. The Federal Government cut funding to peak homelessness bodies before Christmas and has yet to commit to an extension of the National Partnership on Homelessness between states and the commonwealth, which is due to expire in June.

We need more, not less funding in this sector if we are to offer a real alternative and hope to women who leave abusive relationships. Imagine the dilemma facing a woman who has several children and wants to leave? Yes, there is a safe house and refuges that we run and can accommodate such a family for a short time. But what then? There is a shortage of public and social housing and affordable private rental, so a woman faces homelessness if she escapes family violence. This has to change and we will prosecute this case strongly with the Royal Commission. As we say, homelessness should never be the safer option.