Ten days, ten calls for change
Roughly half of Australia's homeless population are women, and many of these women have children.
The Women’s Homelessness Prevention Project (WHPP) aims to stop homelessness for women before it starts, through a combination of legal representation and social work support.
In its first two years, the WHPP provided legal representation (including advice, negotiation and representation at VCAT) and social work support to 102 women with 157 children who were homeless or on the brink of it. Ninety per cent of these women had experienced family violence.
After two years, the WHPP has an 83% success rate for finalised matters, meaning that women avoided eviction, secured new housing without an intervening period of homelessness or resolved another tenancy legal issue (e.g. a housing debt) that was a barrier to getting safe housing.
Informed by what we’ve learnt from helping over 100 women experiencing or at risk of homelessness, we have identified 10 systemic changes that will reduce the risk of homelessness for Victorian women and children.
At the bottom of this page, you can read about each of our calls for change, and the stories of women which remind us why these changes are needed.
As it stands, Victoria does not have a legal system or a culture geared toward homelessness prevention and this needs to change. Evictions into homelessness must be an absolute last resort and reducing barriers to immediate re-housing an urgent priority’.
Our ten calls for change are:
- Strengthen safeguards to make evictions into homelessness a last resort
- Invest in services proven to keep women in housing and resolve legal issues stemming from family violence
- Improve the legal framework for victims of family violence to keep their housing
- Improve legal mechanisms for exiting leases due to family violence
- Prevent victims of family violence being penalised for damage or arrears caused by perpetrators
- Strengthen policies and oversight to avoid inappropriate debts for public housing tenants
- Promote the ability of tenants to retrieve and keep their belongings when their tenancy ends
- Make human rights meaningful and accessible
- Support the private rental sector to avoid unnecessary evictions
- Plan for – and invest in – significant growth in affordable housing.
As a community, we need to work together to stop homelessness before it starts for Victorian women and children. Where women and families have slipped into homelessness, we need a legal, housing and services framework that supports their rapid exit.