Trapped between danger and homelessness

By ALEXANDRA BALKOS

Women are still struggling between homelessness and staying in dangerous environments, a year after the Royal Commission into Family Violence delivered its report and recommendations. 

The commission said in its final report there were problems with the existing housing systems in place for those who had suffered family violence.

Family violence victim Emily D*, 21, said she left her family home to escape conflict, but the financial constraints of the housing market forced her to return.  

“It was stressful. I had to quit university in order to take a full-time job just so I could afford rent and to feed myself,” she said.

Emily said the cost of housing became too much, so to keep herself off the streets, she had no choice but to return home.

“No matter how much trauma or abuse you’ve been through, it’s so hard to move away from it, even to help yourself mentally or physically,” she said.

The commission said the availability of crisis accommodation was limited “because of capacity restraints, eligibility requirements and other barriers”, making it harder than ever for women to access safe housing in times of need.

The report also said  this issue might cause victims to “feel they have no alternative but to remain in, or return to, abusive relationships”.

 Council to Homeless Persons consumer programs manager Ian Gough said most young people lost their homes because of family violence and conflict.

He said that violence was “the key driver” of homelessness.

“That’s why so many young women become homeless, because [they] are the ones who are most exposed to violence,” he said.

According to Homelessness Australia55 per cent of females report domestic violence as their main reason for displacement, making the issue of family violence the No.1 cause of homelessness in Australia.

*not her real name