Since 2014, our innovative Women’s Homelessness Prevention Project (WHPP) has responsively kept women and children safely housed across Victoria through integrated legal and social work assistance.
From 20 years of frontline experience through our Homeless Law program, we know that integrated legal services are essential in helping Victorian women and children to break the links between homelessness, family violence and financial stress.
The WHPP is the only service of its type in Victoria, and its model was cited by the Law Council of Australia’s Justice Project Final Report as best practice for successfully preventing and reducing housing insecurity.
Almost half of Victorians experiencing homelessness are women. 1 in 6 are children under 12 and family violence is the most common cause of homelessness in Victoria.
The COVID-19 public health pandemic and the related recovery phase has also caused rising legal need for women and children facing housing, financial and job-related insecurity, along with heightened risks to safety and health.
The WHPP is one of the Victorian legal assistance sector’s most targeted and ambitious models of partnership-based, integrated practice.
The WHPP provides specialised, ongoing legal representation to ensure that women and children are safely housed, advocates for victim-survivors with rentals affected by family violence, as well as resolving debts and fines that are barriers to secure housing and keeping women and their children together.
This client-centred legal help is combined with the WHPP’s social worker, who expertly helps women and their children to navigate tribunals and courts, and to maintain or access safe housing.
Our social worker also directly links women and their children with WHPP partner organisations for family violence case management, financial counselling, employment support, housing services and community connections.
In 7 years, the WHPP has proven highly effective in breaking the links between homelessness, family violence and poverty, including by:
Pitcher Partners prepared a pro bono report that costed the benefit of the WHPP to be 6.3 times the level of investment, with a cost saving to government of $4.9 million in 5 years.
Pitcher Partners also found that the WHPP’s average annual cost saving in its 5th year represented an increase of $309,972 when compared to its 1st year, demonstrating the WHPP’s growing impact for our community.
Explore our infographic that shows the impact our Women’s Homelessness Prevention Project has had over the last 8 years.
Since 2014, informed by casework evidence and direct feedback from clients and partners, the WHPP has made the following key contributions in improving access to legal supports and progressing social justice: