Funding shortage worsens domestic violence

Thousands of female victims of domestic violence are being forced to choose between homelessness and returning to their abusive partners after seeking help, due to a severe lack of funding within the crisis support sector.

A study by researchers from the Flinders Institute for Housing, Urban and Regional Research (FIHURR) has revealed that every year in Australia around 50 per cent of women are being turned away by the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) after asking for assistance, due to an acute shortage of emergency housing alternatives.

Conducted by Dr Selina Tually and Dr Debbie Faulkner [pictured], along with Mrs Cecile Cutler and Associate Professor Michele Slatter, the study claims the housing shortage is the result of a decade of inaction by the Federal Government, including a failure to increase sector funding during that time.

The study, which included a literature review and an examination of the support and accommodation needs of women affected by domestic and family violence, also revealed the lack of funding has rendered many services inadequate.

“Domestic violence is becoming a problem not only because of the increasing number of victims, but because these women also have a more complex variety of needs to be met,” Dr Faulkner said.

“Therefore, in addition to the ’normal’ level of crisis care, these services are also having to deal with the issue of delivering a whole set of ancillary services without the financial support,” she said.

While it is difficult to establish the total number of women affected by domestic violence each year, an earlier Flinders University study revealed that in 2003-04 67,000 individuals, including 34,700 children, sought refuge through the to escape domestic and family violence.

“Children are not funded as victims of domestic violence in Australia, so while a service might receive funding to help their client, no additional money will be provided for the, say, six kids she is also supporting,” Dr Tually said.

“This is a particular concern for many Indigenous women escaping family violence, many of whom present to services with a large number of children,” she said.

Commissioned by the Federal Government’s Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, was commissioned to inform the Government’s White Paper on the support and accommodation needs facing of women (and children) affected by domestic and family violence which is expected to be released this month.

Dr Tually and Dr Faulkner presented the findings of their report to the Department’s Social Policy Research Workshop in Canberra on 2 December.

Posted in
Corporate Department of Women's Studies Engage News Research Sociology Uncategorized

0 thoughts on “Funding shortage worsens domestic violence

  1. With the housing shortage rents have escalated phenomenally over the past 6 – 7 years. The current level of social security payments, including rent assistance has not kept up. A lowly 3 bedroom unrenovated home in a low socio-economic suburb will chew up over 50% of the benefits paid to a mother who has a pre-schooler. If she cannot gain income through the Child Support Agency, the option of staying at home with her children is not viable. Forced to work part-time in a low paid position, child-care fees will eat into her meagre earnings. The stress of working full-time with one or more pre-schoolers is high and not much left over. Sometimes the easiest solution can simply be to stay and deal with the abuse and violence as best they know how. In at least 1 case that I am aware of, the woman and young child were forced to leave an up-market 4 bedroom/en-suite home as the perpetrator of the violence refused to leave, forcing the woman and child into a lower socio-economic environment, thus disadvantaging the child, but the alternative of staying with the abuser is even worse. With rents now tipping $270 per week for unrenovated homes and rent assistance stuck at $121 per fortnight, the disparity is increasing on an almost daily basis. It’s the women and their children who suffer, while the perpetrators of violence and abuse continue to live their lives unscathed as the police do not have powers of removal in this State. It’s an appalling situation, which gets worse once the youngest child turns 7 as the Parenting Payment is replaced with Newstart or Jobstart which is at only $385 per fortnight.

  2. The lack of concern for women and children is at all levels in our society and some of us get caught in a few of them with terrible results. I am currently homeless with one child under five. I have been stuck in one bedroom thanks to the good-will of a friend, with my child for over a year. The Family Court has ordered I stay in the ACT – while the father lives three and a half hours away. The court orders also ordered for contact on a weekday. I am required to travel with a small child three and a half hours to facilitate time with the ‘father’ (who I never lived with). To afford rent in Canberra requires over $300 per week for the most basic accomodation. All costs of contact/visit met by me, no child support, father more interested in control and abuse than child. The Family Court has shown no interest in our circumstances: homelessness, poverty and it’s orders that make it difficult to work. The irony is that the travel meant I ran the car into the ground. No car now and father hasn’t bothered to see child for six months. However because of the court orders we still can’t move to another state where it is cheaper to live.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *