Report: Social housing keeps women safe from family violence, expands economy

Building new social housing to support people fleeing family violence would more than pay for itself in averted costs and economic spin-off benefits, according to a landmark report to be submitted to the national Women’s Safety Summit.

The Nowhere To Go’ Equity Economics report analysed the benefits of providing long term social housing to victims of family violence, finding it is the leading reason women and children seek specialist homelessness services. Alarmingly, only 3.2 per cent are receiving the long-term housing solutions they need.  Equity Economics estimates that the lack of long term social housing is leading to 7,690 women a year returning to violent partners and 9,120 women a year becoming homeless.

The report commissioned by Everybody’s Home found family and domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children.

If the Commonwealth Government invested in 16,800 additional social housing units the  $7.6 billion cost would be dwarfed by immediate economic benefits of $15.3 billion and the creation of 47,000 new jobs.

It found the additional social housing would generate savings of $122.5 million in a year due to women not returning to a violent partner and a further $257 million in a year in savings due to women not experiencing homelessness after leaving their homes due to family and domestic violence.

National spokesperson Kate Colvin said the research made a compelling economic and social case for an investment that would keep tens of thousands Australian women and children safe.

“More than 9,000 women and children face homelessness each year after leaving a violent partner. As this report highlights, many simply have nowhere to go.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

Further facts on Australia’s domestic and family violence crisis:

  • 1 in 6 women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15
  • 1 in 16 men have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15
  • A woman was murdered every 10 days by an intimate partner in 2018-19
  • Family and domestic violence costs $22 billion per year
  • In 2019-20, across Australia, there were 112,509 family and domestic violence related incidents recorded by police. Due to underreporting, it is estimated that this only represents 40 per cent of actual crime levels.

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