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Housing priority area

Improving access to safe and stable housing options

Understanding and responding to the housing needs of people experiencing and using family violence is a key part of the family violence reform.

Meeting the housing needs of Victorians experiencing family violence is complex. Each victim survivor has different needs and considerations.

Emergency accommodation may be important in a crisis. However, many victim survivors want support to stay in their own homes. Those who cannot stay at home need assistance beyond short-term refuge. A stable home in a suitable location provide security and support stable work and education.

In addition to delivering better outcomes for individuals, timely access to stable long-term accommodation reduces the blockages in refuge and crisis accommodation.

Our focus continues to minimise risk during crises. We do this by supporting victim survivors to exit safely from a family violence situation. We are also delivering long-term solutions to re-establish stability for victim survivors, including children.

The focus for the Rolling Action Plan involves new activity and continued delivery of the significant long-term housing investments announced. This includes continuing to replace our communal refuges with new core and cluster model refuges providing greater privacy and independence and building more new social housing homes.

What has happened

Family violence is a leading cause of homelessness, especially for women and children. Homelessness can occur as a direct result of experiencing family violence and structural barriers. These barriers include gender inequality, a lack of affordable housing, and limited social support.

Victoria has commenced delivery of the Big Housing Build, which aims to increase social and affordable housing. On completion, it will deliver more than 9,300 social housing dwellings:

  • 1,100 dwellings will replace existing stock,
  • 8,200 will be new social housing dwellings, and
  • 2,900 will be new affordable market homes.

Home ownership offers great protections against family violence and gives victim survivors a chance to gain financial independence. The Big Housing Build is expected to provide a safe home for 1,000 victim survivors of family violence across Victoria. This investment is on top of the $498 million Building Works package for refurbishment and maintenance of existing public and community housing properties. The Building Works package includes a $10 million investment to increase support for women and children escaping family violence.

The Royal Commission found that housing pathways for victim survivors are ‘blocked up’ and not flowing as intended. It recognised that these blockages result in women and children remaining in refuges for longer periods. Over the past two years, the average length of stay for victim survivors in refuge has remained relatively stable (6.2 weeks in 2019–20 and 6.4 weeks in 2020–21).

Victorian private rental laws were updated in March 2021. These included higher protections for victim survivors and accountability for perpetrators of family violence:

  • The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal can now assist in removing perpetrators of family violence from rental agreements. This allows victim survivors and their children to remain in their own homes.
  • Victim survivors are not liable for damage caused by a perpetrator of family violence who does not live in the home.
  • Termination of rental agreements because of family violence must be heard by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal within three business days.

Our focus on the future of Victoria’s crisis accommodation continues to be the core and cluster model.

This includes 19 redeveloped and new family violence refuges across Victoria, including three new Aboriginal-specific refuges. The core and cluster model provides individual family units with on-site support which will provide greater independence, privacy and security for victim survivors, including children. As refuges are redeveloped, capacity for after-hours support will also be provided.

What is next?

Through 2022 the planning, redevelopment and construction of refuges and dwellings will continue. This includes:

  • continuing the redevelopment of 10 family violence refuges including the completion of a second Aboriginal-specific family violence refuge and the commencement of a third
  • construction of new public housing dwellings
  • delivery of an additional 18 new social housing dwellings under the Social Housing Growth Fund
  • consultation on the Benalla masterplan for the Regional Estate Revitalisation project
  • acquisition of a further 18 properties for women and their children.

We will also evaluate the Medium-Term Perpetrator Accommodation Service and determine next steps based on the key learnings and outcomes from the five pilot sites.

The social and affordable housing challenge will require ongoing effort over many years, extending beyond the Big Housing Build. That is why we are developing a new 10-year Strategy for Social and Affordable Housing in Victoria. We are committed to ensuring all Victorians have access to a safe, affordable and appropriate home. The new strategy will establish the 10-year vision for social and affordable housing in Victoria and build on the success of the Big Housing Build and other investment to date. What this means for outcomes