Our ‘Safe at Home’ project

McAuley is leading a project to examine what more can be done to further an approach called ‘Safe At Home.’

‘Safe at home’ would mean that wherever possible, women and children being able to stay home, while perpetrators are the ones who must leave.

In the more traditional situation, victims-survivors end up with all the disadvantages of having to leave their homes to be safe from violence. We know that when they do so, they leave behind friends, family, neighbours. Their children’s schooling is disrupted. They have to leave jobs unexpectedly. They can begin to struggle financially with only one income, and all the costs of moving and relocating. And with housing in short supply and so unaffordable, they often end up couch-surfing, staying in a whole series of emergency motels, living in cars, or homeless.

For all these reasons McAuley has begun a ‘Safe At Home’ advocacy project to ensure that leaving family violence doesn’t become a step towards homelessness.

This project directly relates to Recommendation 13 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

‘The Victorian Government give priority to supporting victims in safely remaining in, or returning to, their own homes and communities through the expansion of Safe at Home–type programs across Victoria. These programs should incorporate rental and mortgage subsidies and any benefits offered by advances in safety devices, with suitable case management as well as monitoring of perpetrators by police and the justice system.’

After 5 years of investment, the system is slowing coming together as intended. ‘Flexible Support Packages’ and ‘Personal Safety Initiatives’ are examples of options now available to support women and children who can stay home. But, in the midst of so much work, women and children continue to turn up in homelessness services because they’ve left family violence and we don’t want to lose sight of prioritising keeping victim survivors safe in their home. It’s clear there is a lot more work to do.

For women and children to be genuinely be able to choose to stay and be safe at home, there will need to be change in many systems, so this project is bringing together Victoria Police, Magistrates’ Courts, Family Violence and Homelessness peak bodies, SafeSteps, No To Violence, Government departmental representatives from Family Safety Victoria, and university researchers who have been looking at this issue.

McAuley is consulting with women who have used our services, who have become homeless because of family violence. This has already given us valuable information about what really happens on the ground and where things aren’t working well – as well as whether being able to stay home safely could have been an option.

For further information on the ‘Safe at Home’ project, contact: ksoraghan@mcauleycsw.org.au

How you can support our ‘Safe at home’ project?

Your donation will make a difference in allowing us to continue our push toward greater ‘Safe at Home’ outcomes for women and children who have experienced family violence.

In 2019-2020 family violence was a leading cause of homelessness in Victoria.

presentations to homelessness services because of family violence

%

of those presenting were women

victim-survivors in emergency accommodation each night

%

of McAuley's clients in crisis went home safely