Domestic violence victims are increasingly being forced to stay in dangerous situations because of the housing crisis, with some moving more than 1000km away to find suitable housing and support.

QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said the housing crisis was exacerbating the dangerous circumstances for domestic and family violence victims statewide, and the state government needed to step up immediately to fund more emergency accommodation for vulnerable victims and families.

“Services that help victims trying to escape domestic and family violence have been reporting a recent increase in those being forced to stay in dangerous situations because of the lack of housing, right across the state,” Ms McVeigh said.

“This coincides with the QPS figures showing there has been an increase in domestic violence in Queensland. There is no doubt that the housing crisis is forcing women and young people to make an impossible choice between safety and homelessness. Women’s and children’s lives are increasingly being put at danger because of the lack of suitable housing available to them, and the government must step in to help these victims now.

“Services are also reporting that victims are being forced to move more than 1000 km away, in some instances, to find appropriate housing, from Far North Queensland to South East Queensland and vice-versa. Victims should be supported, not forced into circumstances where they have less established supports, as a result of the housing crisis.

“Domestic violence services are woefully underfunded and cannot keep up with demand. They urgently need the funding that is required to ensure they can respond to women and children when they need it.

“We also need more housing, including supportive housing and increased funding for Specialist Homelessness Services. We need to urgently increase the social housing stock available to women and children, and provide support to children who are homeless and alone.”

DVConnect CEO Beck O’Connor said on average, it took five referrals across the Shelter network to secure a vacancy for a victim that could provide an appropriate placement – some “very far away”, due to “limited supply options near their local areas”.

“Some women do leave their home but end up in unsafe alternative and unsupported accommodation options, due to a lack of safe and appropriate options,” Ms O’Connor said.

She said accountability also needed to be placed on domestic violence perpetrators, and increased support put in place for women so that they could stay safely in their homes, instead of being forced out.

Mena Waller, Queensland State Director of 54 Reasons, which runs domestic violence shelters, said they had also seen a recent increase in victims being forced to stay at home due to a lack of housing.

“What we’re seeing is a gap in appropriate accommodation for women and children escaping domestic and family violence, which is leading to them staying in unsafe environments,” Ms Waller said.

“Due to the housing and accommodation crisis, some women and children are being housed wherever there is an appropriate vacancy, which can be hundreds of kilometres away from their homes. While this can keep them physically safe from escalating violence, it can also mean losing existing support and networks.”

Lifeline Darling Downs and South West Queensland has also reported a recent increase in women seeking to escape domestic violence in their region, where housing options are scarce.

7 August 2023