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With only five specialised women’s shelters for domestic violence in NSW, advocates claim many victims are slipping into homelessness.
Currently in NSW, 70% of all women seeking refuge are turned away from crisis accommodation each day.
Census data has told us that women leaving violent environments are much more likely to be homeless
CEO of the charity Women’s Community Shelters, Annabelle Daniel, says that although a lot of work has gone into creating women's shelters across NSW, more that needs to be done.
“We continue to be approached by local communities each week. Every shelter we have opened has been completely full within a week, and some women even put themselves on waiting lists,” Ms Daniel said.
“Census data has told us that women leaving violent environments are much more likely to be homeless. Since we began, we have seen a dramatic increase in demand for our services over the years,” she said.
Women’s Community Shelters has currently established five specialised shelters for women who face domestic violence and looks to build two more shelters in Parramatta and Blacktown in the near future.
Social inclusion and reintegration are vital parts of what we do, and these things cannot be achieved with just a roof,” Ms Daniel said.
Providing just a homelessness service to these women is inadequate, as these women have complex needs
A study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), showed 72,000 women sought homelessness services due to family violence from 2016-2017.
AIHW CEO Barry Sandison said the study also revealed that 34,000 children sought homelessness services in the same year.
"The seriousness of these issues cannot be overstated,” he said.
“Looking only at the numbers can at times appear to depersonalise the pain and suffering that sits behind the statistics,” Mr Sandison said.
Dr. Susan Heward-Belle, Lecturer on Social Work and Policy Studies at the University of Sydney, said specialised women’s domestic violence shelters were necessary, and were very important in assisting victims of family trauma.
“Providing just a homelessness service to these women is inadequate, as these women have complex needs that are legal, financial, emotional and psychological,” she said.
“These kinds of services should not be up to concerned members of society or charities to go off and raise funds for, it needs to be a genuine public health and justice issue.”
According to Dr. Heward-Belle, a lack of specialist services in NSW has had negative consequences on women and children who journey away from domestic violence.