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Type: Report
Title: Family violence, homelessness and ‘safe at home’: Data state of knowledge
Authors: Soraghan, K
ANRA Topic: Data development
Housing and homelessness
Health, primary care and specialist service responses
ANRA Population: General population
Year: 2021
Publisher: McAuley Community Services for Women

McAuley Community Services for Women (McAuley) supports women and children who have experienced family violence and homelessness. In a submission to the 2015 Royal Commission into Family Violence, McAuley’s main recommendations centred on the adoption of a ‘safe at home’ approach.

A ‘Safe at Home’ approach addresses this key question: why should victims of violence be the ones to leave? ‘Safe at Home’ is a prevention of homelessness response with safety a key criterion. It has a human rights basis and aims to rectify the injustice of women and children fleeing their homes for their own safety. Victim-survivors are enabled to live safely at home, remaining connected to their communities, schools and workplaces.

Since the Royal Commission, McAuley has remained concerned at the continuing, and growing, association between leaving a violent relationship and a drift into homelessness for women and children. It is a link has persisted and worsened even against a backdrop of record investment in family violence services since the Royal Commission, and even though a ‘safe at home’ approach is noted as one of the seven targets of the Victorian Government’s 10-Year Plan: Victim-survivors will be supported to remain safely in their homes and connected to their community.

In 2021 McAuley initiated a roundtable of services who play a role in supporting those affected by family violence and homelessness. This group has committed to exploring the system barriers which are preventing women and children from being ‘safe at home’ and developed a systems map. McAuley also undertook a process to analyse the data and what it tells us about the extent of the issue, and the factors that are involved.

It appears there is no official target or process to capture ‘safe at home’ outcomes in Victoria, which makes it hard to set targets or assess whether outcomes are improving over time. This paper gives us a snapshot of what is publicly known and an analysis of what further needs to be collected – or further examined - to understand the dimensions and causes of this issue. It provides a starting point for developing a baseline for measuring safe at home targets. It helps identify what we don’t know and complements the identification of barriers in the system map which has been prepared for the working group.

The main source of data is on how many presentations to homelessness services are connected to family violence services. McAuley also drew on data provided by members of the Safe at Home Working Group, as well as our own data.

The data in this report is more fully understood and brought to life by what McAuley has been learning through consultations with those who have lived experience. (See accompanying paper).

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