The damage domestic violence is causing Australian families is undeniable.
As a country we’re paying the price – with violence against women costing the lives of innocent people, and the Australian economy around $22 billion a year.
In 2018, 63 women were killed by a current or former partner – on average, that’s more than one woman every week.
For mothers, it can be a choice between a rock and hard place trying to leave a violent relationship:
Do they uproot their children, likely disturbing their social and school life, and risk living in poverty trying to find safe, affordable and suitable accommodation?
… or do they stay, with a roof over their head, but continue enduring abuse?
Mum, Evelyne and her family were living in community housing when domestic and family violence forced them to flee.
“Losing your house, your family, everything you’ve got – it can make you very raw and weak,” she said.
“I was homeless, I was living out of my car and I had nowhere to go. My whole family had split up.”
For survivors, moving out of the family home is often the only way of leaving a violent relationship – an abusive partner may control finances and the abuse may have impinged on the woman’s capacity to work and secure financial independence.
As a result, many fleeing women and their children face homelessness and poverty.
“It’s incredibly tough trying to find work when you’re homeless… and I had no previous experience, except for being a Mum.”
As the ABC reports, the main issues forcing those experiencing domestic violence to remain with or return to violent partners are the shortage of social housing and inadequate support payments.
The unique partnership provides safe housing for up to three months to homeless single parents and their young children in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.
AnglicareSA General Manager Housing & Homelessness, Michelle Gegenhuber, said that domestic and family violence is hurting people throughout South Australia.
“Each year, around 2,500 families seek support from AnglicareSA’s northern homelessness service – of these, around 950 families [38%] are fleeing domestic and family violence,” Michelle said.
“We all need to wake up and realise the impacts domestic violence is having on families – our future generations and the entire community.”
Dealing with homelessness and a broken family, Evelyne came to AnglicareSA in crisis.
Her Turning Point home allowed daily life to continue with greater self-sufficiency, security and normality for her family.
“When we walked in my kids were so happy – they had a bed to sleep in and a backyard to play in,” Evelyne said.
“Having a home provided the stability I needed to explore opportunities for my family – I have some job prospects on the horizon and couldn’t imagine how my life was before.”
For the last 12 months, Evelyne has been studying a Certificate 3 in Health Services and Certificate 3 in Individual Support.
Soon, she’s hoping to secure work as a carer at an aged care facility.
“Studying and training has given me the confidence to become someone I thought I never could – I have people saying amazing things about me I’ve never even thought before.
More than 75 per cent of Turning Point families have successfully transitioned into long-term private accommodation.
But there remains a huge demand for services supporting domestic violence victims, which is compounded by a shortfall of funding and resources. This means organisations like AnglicareSA can’t accommodate everyone in need.
The courage of women who have survived domestic violence can give hope to others experiencing violence, and is a source of inspiration to the broader community.
But nationwide, more action is still required.
If you or anyone else are in crisis due to violence and are looking for support services please contact:
- Domestic Violence Crisis Line – phone 1800 800 098 (after hours diverts to Homelessness Gateway Service) for crisis counselling, support and referral to safe accommodation.
- 1800 RESPECT – phone 1800 737 732 for sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling.
- Women’s Information Service – phone (08) 8303 0590 for referrals to domestic violence services and for safety information.
For other domestic and family violence and sexual assault support services, visit the State Government’s domestic violence and sexual assault page.