Family Violence Continues as Driving Force of Homelessness

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released a new web report highlighting the significant role of domestic and family violence in causing homelessness.

Domestic and family violence is one of the main causes of homelessness in Australia.  One third of Australians who accessed specialist homelessness services (SHS) between 2011-12 and 2013-14 were adults with children seeking assistance due to domestic and family violence.

The report recognised that domestic and family violence situations are especially complex, resulting in clients receiving more days of support than other SHS clients on average.

The key findings were:

  • 187,000 of the 520,000 Australians who accessed SHS between 2011–12 and 2013–14 were adults and children seeking assistance for reasons of domestic and family violence.
  • The complexity of domestic and family violence situations requires continued support over long time periods. Such clients received, on average, more days of support than other SHS clients (136 days of support compared with 92 days, respectively).
  • Almost 1 in 4 domestic and family violence clients recorded more than 300 days of support between their first and last support periods. Compared to less than 1 in 5 of other SHS clients.
  • Family and domestic violence clients were more likely than other SHS clients to request accommodation services. Where short term accommodation was requested, family and domestic violence clients were more likely to have that request met than other clients (82% compared with 61%, respectively).
  • Between 2011–12 and 2013–14 the proportion of domestic and family violence clients moving into public and community housing increased from 14% to 22%.
  • However, 20% of domestic and family violence clients ended their support with no shelter, couch surfing or no tenure and a further 20% were in short term accommodation.

The report concluded that: “Specialist homelessness services were successful in both reducing the proportion of clients considered homeless and increasing the proportion living in public or community housing at the end of support. These results reflect the priority given to those experiencing domestic and family violence when it comes to a safe and stable housing outcome.”

Shelter WA believes these findings highlight the desperate need for more crisis accommodation and long term housing solutions to help those who are escaping domestic and family violence access safe, secure and affordable housing.

The full report is available here.