Only 3.2 per cent of people fleeing family violence have access to long-term housing solutions, posing profound social and economic problems, a new study has found.
The ‘Nowhere To Go’ Equity Economics report released on Monday found that building new social housing to ensure those leaving violence had a place to go would ultimately pay for itself through the economic benefits and mitigated costs.
Family and domestic violence costs Australia $22 billion a year, with one in six women and one in 16 men having experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a previous or current partner.
It found housing was the main reason women and children leaving violence sought specialist homelessness services.
The lack of housing options also means 7,690 women return to their violent partners every year, while another 9,120 become homeless, the report commissioned by Everybody’s Home found.
“As this report highlights, many simply have nowhere to go,” said Kate Colvin, national spokesperson at Everybody’s Home.
However, by investing $7.6 billion in 16,800 additional social housing units, the Federal Government would ultimately deliver $15.3 billion in economic benefits and create 47,000 new jobs, while closing the shortfall of housing.
“Victims and survivors of domestic and family violence are often criticised for returning to their abusive partners but an overwhelming majority have to choose between that and homelessness,” Colvin said.
“This report demonstrates an urgent need for an additional 16,800 social housing units to ensure women and children have somewhere to go when they are forced to leave their homes due to domestic and family violence. Stable housing is critical to their safety and wellbeing.”
The report also found that the extra housing would deliver $122.5 million in savings every year, due to averting the costs associated with women returning to violent partners. An additional $257 million would be saved as fewer women fall into homelessness as a result of domestic violence.
“Ideally, women would stay in their homes and perpetrators would be removed during instances of family violence. The harsh reality is that women need to leave to find safety,” Colvin said.
“By building more social housing, the Federal Government can inject billions of dollars into our economy, create tens of thousands of jobs and prove it is serious about helping victims of domestic and family violence.”