Nicola’s Story

Victim of family violence facing eviction after paying childcare debt instead of rent. 

Nicola is a 38 year old woman with five children in her care. She lives in a private rental property and her only source of income is Centrelink payments. Nicola and her children have all been exposed to family violence from Nicola’s ex-partner. Nicola also suffers from depression and anxiety, and does not sleep well.

At one point, Nicola was hospitalised and her youngest children had to stay overnight with a family day care worker. This resulted in a large childcare bill that Nicola paid instead of her rent. Nicola’s landlord then issued her with a notice to vacate her private rental property and obtained a possession order from VCAT.

Nicola didn’t attend the VCAT hearing as she hadn’t been regularly checking her mail due to the family violence and other stress. When she contacted Homeless Law, there was a warrant and the locks were going to be changed in the coming days.

She was booked into the WHPP clinic urgently. At the initial appointment, Nicola saw lawyers and a social worker. The lawyers made an urgent application for rehearing, which put a hold on the eviction.

The lawyers then negotiated a payment plan with the landlord for Nicola to repay the arrears. The social worker helped Nicola access support for other expenses, including beds and food for her children, so more money could be contributed to the rent. She also linked Nicola with support to help recover from long-term family violence.

At the VCAT hearing, Nicola’s lawyers successfully argued for a payment plan to be put in place, which enabled Nicola to repay the arrears at an affordable fortnightly rate.

The lawyers and social worker worked together to avoid Nicola and her children being evicted into homelessness. This gave her the time she needed to look for a more suitable rental property, as well as to establish crucial links with supports that are helping her and her children to find their feet again.