POLITICS

Victorian Government Invests $21 Million In New Refuges For Domestic Violence Victims

Addressing another one of the 227 recommendations from the Royal Commission.

27/09/2016 11:27 AM AEST | Updated 27/09/2016 11:31 AM AEST
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Families will benefit from the new housing project.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews' Government will today announce $21 million in funding to build new "core and cluster" family refuges for victims of family violence.

The multi-million dollar funding package addresses one of the hundreds of recommendations the state government promised to implement from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Four family violence refuge sites will be developed -- in areas of high need -- across the state, which will be made up of independent units for women and children escaping violent homes.

The units, which are set to be built in mid-2017, will have separate bedrooms for women and their children, with a support facility located in the refuge to provide victims with support and easy access to services 24 hours a day.

Most Victorian refuges currently have communal kitchens and bathrooms, so the new refuges will not only provide more independence for victims of family violence but will be able to assist a greater number of Victorians in need.

Family violence is the single biggest cause for homelessness for women, and 40 percent of Victorians accessing homeless services are escaping family violence.

Victoria's Minister for Housing Martin Foley will announce the multi-million plan on Tuesday, which was allocated funding in the last state budget when the state began leading the political charge in tackling family violence across the state.

In a keynote speech at the Breaking the Cycle of Domestic and Family Violence conference, Foley will say a funding boost for existing family violence support services will double case management services available and help more than 9,000 women and children.

However, new approaches will create the biggest impact and "collaboration is the key."

"The Andrews government is coordinating a cross departmental co-design process that will include the specialist service sector and those affected by family violence in service design and implementation," Foley will say.

"These agencies include family violence agencies, men's family violence services, child protection and, importantly, Victoria Police and corrections -- recognising the important role police and the justice system have in addressing family violence.

"It is this kind of whole of government, whole of community approach that I believe will make a real and lasting difference to the lives of people enduring domestic and family violence."

In April, Premier Daniel Andrews announced a whopping $572 million would be put towards addressing family violence in the state budget (which you can read all about here), after the Royal Commission into Family Violence delivered 227 recommendations.

The millions in funding is going towards creating systematic change around the state, with the introduction of specialist services, more communication between health services and a rehaul of crisis accommodation.

The future four refuges are part of a $152 million Family Violence Housing Blitz, which aim to bridge the hole between immediate support and long term accommodation.

"It's important that we give women and children escaping family violence every opportunity to take time in the right setting before they move on with their lives," Foley told The Huffington Post Australia.

"These new homes will provide a short term hiatus -- and coupled with a supportive environment, that'll give them the safety and reassurance they need."

The Family Violence Housing Blitz is already making change, with the state government collaborating with more not-for-profit housing organisations and companies in the private sector.

About $50 million has been put towards a Rapid Housing Assistance Fund which is helping Victorian women and children access long-term crisis accommodation.

By June 30, 184 new social housing properties will be constructed across the state and 124 new houses and flats are to be leased.

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