BY LAURA WILLIAMS
While half of the country is told to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19, for a growing number of women and children it is simply not an option.
A recent report conducted by Equity Economics has revealed that victims of domestic violence – particularly women and children – are being forced into a cycle of homelessness, with social housing failing to meet the growing number of displaced victims.
The housing crisis that is ongoing in the Hunter region has meant even less options are available to vulnerable women and children.
Nova for Women and Children CEO Kelly Hansen said COVID-19 has been a major contributing factor to the spike in reports of domestic violence.
“It was very difficult to access and assist women when the perpetrator was always at home, we had to get very creative,” said Ms Hansen.
Another concern is the victims who are forced to return to their violent household and to live with their perpetrator, being the only option outside of homelessness.
The clearest solution it seems is to create more social housing to provide stability for women and children escaping violent households and to assist in breaking the cycle of homelessness.
“We can fund as many support services as we like, but without housing it seems a bit irrelevant.”
Nova for Women and Children have advocated for increased social housing for the past ten years to support a service that is well and truly operating above capacity, with only three services for women in crisis in the region.
Ms Hansen is hopeful that the new report will gain traction in government and the public eye, with the upcoming National Safety Summit creating an opportunity to raise the issue.
“This report will help inform at a national level,” she said.
The National summit on women’s safety will be held in September after the recent COVID-19 outbreak led to its postponement.