Global Network of Women's Shelters

Erika Martino, a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, has conducted a research study highlighting affordable permanent housing as a key means to recovery for people leaving circumstances of domestic and family violence.

Women have been disproportionaly affected by social inequalities like lower wages, low education levels and high unemployment rates which translates to unaffordable, unsafe, and low quality housing situations. 

“There is a clear link between women’s homelessness and intimate partner violence,” Erika said.

Indeed, she explained how having no safe place to stay is the major obstacle for women leaving domestic violence situations. Moreover, she continued explaining how,

“the cost of housing in Melbourne is exacerbating this problem.” 

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 40 per cent of women accessing the Victorian homelessness system in 2016-17 cited intimate partner violence as a primary cause.

Martino agreed that finding secure ongoing housing (unlike crisis housing) is crucial for women’s safety and ability to recover from these experiences. She expressed how in fact survivors not only want counseling but also tangible support such as a safe, secure place to come home to every night. 

Some of the ideas which Martino has already encountered include:

  • The embedding of social services like a public library into new projects and;
  •  greater collaborations between multiple partner organisations to fund affordable, long-term housing in better locations.

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