The Royal Commission into Family Violence found that family violence is the number one cause of homelessness for women.
Understanding and responding effectively to the housing needs of victim survivors is key if we are to meet the reform’s ambition to ensure victim survivors are safe and supported to recover and thrive.
Meeting the housing needs of Victorians experiencing family violence is complex with each victim survivor bringing different needs and considerations.
While emergency accommodation may be the first response in a crisis, we know that many victim survivors want support to stay in their own homes.
The biggest trauma in your life is happening in what should be the safest place in your life, your home…
For those who can’t stay at home, they need assistance beyond short-term refuge. A stable home in a suitable location will help deliver the best outcomes: security and support to meet their needs for stable work and education.
Housing supports for someone experiencing family violence may include:
- a safe and supported place to stay in an emergency
- access to longer term social housing
- financial assistance to keep or obtain a private rental
- help to stay in their own home if they choose to
While the goal is to provide a pathway to stability so that families can move on with their lives, supporting victim survivors requires different responses at different stages.
Our priority is safety, whether that’s supporting victim survivors to stay at home or to leave.
It can be really challenging to know when is the right time to leave – when a woman has made that choice, it is essential to get her out.
If people in family violence situations don’t know that their physical needs like housing can be met, that traps them.
Our focus is now on:
- continuing to minimise risk at points of crisis by supporting victim survivors to exit safely from a family violence situation
- delivering the long-term solutions that will be most effective in re-establishing stability for victim survivors, including children
Some of the ways we will do this is to:
- continue to replace our communal refuges with new core and cluster model refuges providing greater privacy and independence
- increase support for victim survivors to stay in their own homes
- build more new social housing homes
Progress since 2016
The key housing activities which have been delivered since the Royal Commission are grouped here into three areas.
Delivery of the $152 million Family Violence Housing Blitz package between 2016 and 2018 as part of Homes for Victorian strategy has:
- provided quicker access to public housing for victim survivors by prioritising them on the Victorian Housing Register
- helped victim survivors stabilise their lives faster by providing 185 social housing properties and access to private rental leases through the Rapid Housing Assistance program
- continued to meet the individual needs of victim survivors including children by supporting them to remain safely in their home through provision of around 6,500 flexible support packages each year
- provided financial support, advice and assistance in accessing or sustaining private rental tenancies through the Private Rental Assistance Program
- New crisis accommodation units have been constructed and existing crisis accommodation units upgraded to better provide for the needs of women and children escaping family violence.
- Four of the redeveloped ‘core and cluster’ family violence refuges are now open in locations across Victoria including regional refuges.
- Three new youth refuges have been built for young people experiencing homelessness, many of whom are escaping family violence.
- The Hope Street First Response Youth Service in Melton opened in mid-2020 and will provide 24/7 support for an estimated 100 young people a year (aged 16-25).
This video covers the journey Hope Street has been on over the past five years to create the refuge.
Family violence victim survivors have access to:
- 325 newly purchased long term social housing properties
- 401 medium-term tenancies leased by government from the private sector
Delivery to 2023
The main housing activities include new activity and continued delivery of the significant long-term housing investments announced over recent years.
This overview of our housing activities to 2023 is grouped into five areas.
We have begun to phase out communal refuges. These can be confronting and challenging for victim survivors, requiring women to share kitchen and bathroom facilities, and share bedrooms with their children.
The future of Victoria’s crisis accommodation is our core and cluster model: 19 redeveloped and new family violence refuges across Victoria, including two new Aboriginal-specific refuges.
Individual family units with on-site support will provide greater independence, privacy and security for victim survivors, including children.
- As refuges are redeveloped, capacity for after-hours support will be provided.
- Four refuges are already open and the remainder will be operational by 2022.
When the refuge redevelopment program is complete it will be able to accommodate approximately 160 households.
The timeline reflects that the remaining 15 refuges are scheduled for completion by mid-2022.
The 2020/21 State Budget committed $18.2 million over two years to support the operations for these 15 refuges as works are completed (including enhanced after-hours support and expanded capacity).
New Aboriginal-specific family violence refuges
Activities Construction has commenced for the first Aboriginal specific refuge Mid 2020 DHHS Location for the second refuge is being sourced Mid 2020 DHHS First refuge is due to open Mid to late 2021 DHHS Second refuge is due to open Mid 2022 DHHS
Redevelopment of remaining family violence refuges
Activities Three refuges expected to be completed Late 2020 DHHS Three more refuges expected to be completed Early 2021 DHHS Two more refuges expected to be completed Mid 2021 DHHS Five more refuges expected to be completed Mid to late 2021 DHHS All refuges expected to be operational By 2022 DHHS
We know that many victim survivors would prefer to stay in their home if it is safe to do so.
I had to leave my home for safety reasons but was severely disadvantaged …
I was still on the same wage but now had huge additional expenses that left me with very little left over each week.
At the same time my perpetrator got to stay in our home (which we owned) with no additional expenses at all.
Personal Safety Initiative
- Following a successful pilot, the Personal Safety Initiative is now being expanded across the state.
- It supports victim survivors with effective technology and security measures that allow them to remain safely in their own homes and communities.
- It is supported by a case manager to sustainably assist in managing family violence related risk.
Perpetrator accommodation options
The reform is helping to support victim survivors to stay in their own home by providing alternative accommodation to perpetrators of family violence, where possible.
As part of Victoria’s coronavirus (COVID-19) response perpetrators of family violence, or people who believe they are at risk of using violence, have been able to access short or longer-term accommodation, and receive support to change their behaviour.
Why should children have to relocate from the family home - where possible the rights of children to remain in the home and therefore the schools etc should be a much higher priority.
People experiencing homelessness during COVID-19 are being supported in the short term with emergency hotel accommodation, before transitioning to medium-term accommodation.
Some people seeking support through this initiative were experiencing or at risk of experiencing family violence.
- Up to 1,700 properties sourced from the private rental market, spot purchases and from social housing to provide longer term accommodation for up to 18 months.
- Access to flexible support packages including family violence, mental health support, and drug and alcohol support for those who need it.
With more housing options and wrap-around support to go with it, we’re giving Victorians the best possible chance to find a path out of homelessness and get their lives back on track.
Homelessness affects both victim survivors and perpetrators. In 2018-19, 44 per cent of all clients seeking assistance from a homelessness service in Victoria cited family and domestic violence as a reason for seeking assistance.
People escaping or who have escaped family violence now have priority access to public and community housing on the Victorian Housing Register. Therefore, every investment in housing also increases victim survivors' access to a stable home, including through these key initiatives:
Big Housing Build
The Big Housing Build, announced in November 2020, is investing $5 billion over four years to increase social and affordable housing stock in Victoria.
More than 9,300 new social housing dwellings and 2,900 new affordable market homes for first home buyers and renters will commence construction over the next four years.
Of these more than 12,000 new dwellings, 25 per cent will be in regional and rural Victoria.
The chance to move into a safe home and rebuild lives in a new environment is something the Big Housing Build will give many Victorian women and children. The Big Housing Build is expected to deliver a safe home for as many as 1,000 victim survivors of family violence.
10 per cent of new social housing dwellings will support Aboriginal Victorians.
The Big Housing Build will work across four streams:
Constructing new social and affordable housing dwellings on public land
- 500 new social housing properties
- 540 new affordable and market homes
Community housing partnership developments on government land
- 690 new social housing properties
- 690 new affordable and market homes
Accelerating the Social Housing Growth Fund
- 4,200 new social housing dwellings
Spot-purchasing existing and in-progress homes
- 1,600 new social housing properties
- 200 new affordable homes
1,000 new public dwellings
1,000 new public housing dwellings being built across Victoria are in areas of high housing need.
- They include 800 one and two-bedroom properties and 200 three-bedroom properties.
- The new homes will provide modern, comfortable and accessible accommodation and be well-connected to local neighbourhoods.
- They will house approximately 1,800 Victorians, including women and children experiencing family violence.
- They include developments in Geelong, Ballarat, Darebin, Maribyrnong, Stonnington and Whitehorse.
Activities Building began on the first sites Late 2019 DHHS Completion of first 10 homes Mid 2020 DHHS Majority of homes completed Late 2022 DHHS
$500 million will be invested to provide upgrades to community and public housing as part of the government’s shovel-ready economic boost through the COVID-19 Building Works package.
- maintenance and upgrades for more than 23,000 social housing dwellings across Victoria
- upgrades to amenities in specialist disability accommodation
- 168 new dwellings, including 12 new homes at Aboriginal Housing Victoria sites in Hampton Park and Dandenong
- $10 million to accelerate the delivery of the family violence refuge redevelopment program
- $115 million for rapid housing response projects that increase housing options for Aboriginal Victorians, people at risk of or experiencing homelessness and those leaving state government services such as prisons
Social Housing Growth Fund
- part of the Homes for Victorians plan announced in 2017
- the $1 billion fund will continue to increase the supply of social and affordable housing and deliver public housing renewal and development programs
Activities Expected delivery of more than 780 new social housing dwellings across 25 locations in Metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria Late 2024 DHHS
Low interest loans to housing agencies
- We are making available more than $1.1 billion in low interest loans to the community housing sector to purchase social and affordable housing properties and increase the long-term housing supply.
We recognise that while housing in rural and regional Victoria is not as expensive as in metropolitan areas there can be other barriers to obtaining suitable housing for those experiencing family violence.
During consultation for the Rolling Action Plan stakeholders told us that:
- it can be more difficult in rural areas to house victim survivors when the perpetrator may be close by
- being offered housing that is too far away can pose problems for employment and children’s schooling and sever connections with the community
We are providing incentives to community housing providers to build in rural and remote communities and we are establishing social housing planning incentives in negotiation with local councils.
- At least 25 per cent of the $500 million maintenance and upgrade funding under the Building Works package will be allocated to regional areas.
Social Housing Investment Planning Grants
- $2.5 million for local councils to plan new social housing in their regions.
- 15 councils in the first tranche including Mount Alexander, Frankston, Geelong and Warrnambool.
Regional Estate Revitalisation Project
Activities Agencies who already provide social housing will be collectively funded $9.6 million to provide an additional 84 units for women in non-metropolitan areas By 2022 DHHS $30 million to redevelop out-of-date public housing in Ballarat, Bendigo and Benalla over the next ten years To 2030 DHHS
Connecting housing across the reform
Connections across reform activity are building further strength into our delivery of housing solutions.
Services across family violence, homelessness and social housing are working collaboratively to provide holistic support to victim survivors where housing is considered in the context of their wider needs.
Perpetrators and people who use violence
- Perpetrator-focused services are coordinating with housing providers to find alternative accommodation for perpetrators so more victim survivors can stay in the family home.
The Orange Door network
- Flexible support packages available through The Orange Door network and other family violence services providers are providing tailored options for immediate assistance beyond temporary emergency accommodation.
- $85.1 million over four years has been committed in the 2020/21 State Budget to continue providing flexible support packages.
MARAM and information sharing
- Extending the Multi Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework to homelessness service providers will help identify, assess and manage family violence risk for people using their services.
Activities to deliver safe, stable and affordable housing are informed by our reform-wide priorities of intersectionality, Aboriginal self-determination and lived experience.
We are committed to meeting the needs of all Victorians when improving and expanding housing options. More housing options are already being delivered for people with disabilities, younger people, and large families.
The Building Works package is delivering 168 new homes and upgrading 23,000 properties. These will be available to people on the Victorian Housing Register providing housing for:
- women and children fleeing family violence
- people with a disability (upgrades to 450 accessible properties)
- older Victorians
- Aboriginal Victorians
- those leaving State Government services, such as prisons
People with disabilities
- Redevelopment of the 19 family violence refuges will be accessible to people with disabilities.
- The redeveloped family violence refuges will be accessible for victim survivors including children with disabilities, and one unit at each facility will be built to platinum Liveable Design Standards, maximising safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, and children and young people.
Temporary visa holders
- Refuge providers are receiving flexible financial support so they can assist victim survivors who are on temporary visas and have no income.
Government need to do more than seek input from Aboriginal organisations into service design and response – they need to give over the systems, resources, power and authority. Community need to be in control of all aspects including delivering our own self-determined programs.
Consistent across all the family violence reforms, the principles of self-determination underpin housing responses to family violence. Aboriginal-led initiatives form a combination of specific family violence reform activity and broader government activity to address the housing needs of Aboriginal Victorians.
Both contribute to better outcomes for Aboriginal family violence victim survivors and those who use violence.
'Mana-na worn-tyeen maar-takoort: Every Aboriginal Person has a Home’ is the Victorian Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework, launched in early 2020.
Developed by the Aboriginal community as an act of self-determination, we believe this to be the most comprehensive Aboriginal housing policy framework so far produced in Australia.
The framework aims to achieve quality housing outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians within a generation.
Initial government funding of $5.3 million is providing:
- a two-year Aboriginal-specific Private Rental Assistance Program
- exploring future investment in Aboriginal housing
- The transfer of 1,448 Director of Housing-owned properties to Aboriginal Housing Victoria has been completed.
- Aboriginal Housing Victoria owns, manages and develops the properties on behalf of Aboriginal Victorians.
- This delivers on the government’s commitment to support self-determination by transferring power and resources back to the community.
As part of a $23 million package to support Aboriginal Victorians through the pandemic, $13 million has been made available over two years to help Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations meet an increase in demand for their services.
This will provide a variety of supports for Aboriginal communities, including homelessness services and stable housing.
Aboriginal Victorians know what’s best for their families and their communities – that’s why we’re not only delivering more support but importantly, ensuring they make the call on where and how that support is delivered.
Embedding lived experience allows us to capture insights which only someone who has experienced family violence can provide.
It supplements the data we collect and gives us a better understanding of what supports work. For example, victim survivors were consulted in the design for the new model of core and cluster refuges.
Our housing workshop with the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council heard that moving to somewhere secure and private are the principle considerations in deciding when to exit.
When you’ve lived through family violence and abuse, you actually live in a state of hyper-alertness for your own safety and that of your children…
It’s really unfair or sad to be taking someone from an unsafe situation and placing them in another location where it still feels quite unsafe.
We also heard that the sense of feeling unsafe never really goes away and hyper-vigilance becomes second nature.
It emphasises the importance of providing a holistic response to victim survivors, not just a new roof.
Listening to victim survivors
We learnt that little things can make a big difference. During consultation for the Rolling Action Plan we heard one participant in a housing workshop say that in her community something as simple as a hot shower somewhere safe was an instant stress reliever.
The video on this page tracks the five-year journey to open the Hope Street First Response Youth Service in Melton, in western Melbourne. A large proportion of the young people who go there will be escaping family violence.
Young victim survivors were asked what they wanted in the new building. Their lived experience informed the design.
The two things they asked for was really good wi-fi and a really nice bath.
Emotional trauma and physical trauma can be a big part of their existence and just being able to crawl into a nice bath with a great outlook… is something they really said they wanted to be able to experience.
Family Violence Outcomes Framework
Delivering the activities for this priority area will likely have the greatest impact in achieving outcomes against the following domains:
Domains 2, 3 and 4
Royal Commission recommendations
The Victorian Government has committed to implement all 227 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Of the recommendations still in progress, ten relate to family violence housing support.
Summary of activities to 2023
Reviewed 09 December 2020