Women's shelters across Tasmania are having to turn women trying to escape family violence away with many seeing staying in an abusive situation as a safer option for their children, according to one Tasmanian researcher.
Housing research fellow from University of Tasmania Dr Kathleen Flanagan contributed to a paper last year titled Housing outcomes after domestic and family violence and has also researched how building major social housing infrastructure in Tasmania could alleviate the problem women escaping family violence face.
The 2019 research found that, due to the insufficiencies of crisis housing for those fleeing family violence, women often made decisions to stay with a perpetrator of family violence.
Dr Flanagan said when children were involved women tended to prioritise stability for their kids over removing themselves from abuse.
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"They make a choice of what's best for the kids," she said.
As part of the research Dr Flanagan said often when subsidised private rentals were made available the circumstances were not suitable.
Dr Flanagan said private rentals that were made available were typically those that had filtered down to the bottom of the pile.
"They are cold, they have no insulation, they're often poorly located in terms of public services," she said.
"Women aren't leaving and thinking the situation is good. They know the market is like ... and they often choose not to leave as a result."
The latest Rental Affordability Index revealed that Tasmania had some of the least affordable places in Australia for renters.
Magnolia Pace Launceston Women's Shelter Manager Jenny said the shelter had noticed there was a lack of affordable lower income rental properties in the region, and that it no doubt had an effect on the ability of women to escape from family violence.
"Rents are so high in this state," she said.
Warrawee women's shelter on the North-West coast had also noticed how the cost of housing in the rental market had made the situation more difficult for women in the region.
"There's not enough affordable rental properties out there," a spokesperson for Warrawee said.
"If there was more public housing then shelters and providers [of crisis accommodation] wouldn't be so full."
Both Magnolia Place and Warrawee discussed that the amount of money provided to those in need by the government during COVID-19 had helped but worried what would happen when COVID-19 payments dried up.
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Dr Flanagan was part of a related project in 2018 that looked at social housing - that which catered for those facing homelessness for a number of reasons including escaping family violence - as a government infrastructure investment.
Going on the 2016 Australian census the project figured that 14,200 housing options across Tasmania would be enough to service the entire community of people seeking social housing.
For the state to achieve that goal there would need to be 11,100 new dwellings built.
The state government quarterly housing report from September this year listed providing options for building rapid rehousing as a priority, and had assisted 27 families escaping family violence.
A government spokesperson said, "the government is acting to increase the supply of social and affordable housing in Tasmania and help Tasmanians access safe and secure housing, where they need it".
"The September Quarterly Housing Report confirmed 2422 Tasmanians have been assisted with their housing needs since the start of our affordable housing action plan in 2015".
While feedback from housing service assistance organisations has indicated, due to COVID-19, that number would have increased, Dr Flanagan said she was confident finding that many occupancies was an achievable target, but only if the state and federal governments worked together to do so.
When asked whether the federal government could work with the Tasmanian state government to provide enough social housing to meet this need, federal Minister for Housing Michael Sukkar pointed to the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement.
"This is supporting the delivery of more than 2,200 new and 6,300 existing homes built and maintained by community housing providers [across the country]," he said.
Mr Sukkar said the delivery and construction of social housing was the responsibility of the state government but the federal government was making investments, such as the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, in the area.
Mr Sukkar also pointed to a federal investment into family violence housing services which would contribute around 700 safe places nationwide.
For those seeking help, Family Violence Counselling and Support Service is available on1800 608 122 from 9am to midnight weekdays, and 4pm to midnight on weekends and public holidays.
Telephone and online counselling is available at 1800 RESPECT or by calling 1800 737 732.
Lifeline is also available 24/7 on 13 11 14.
To access crisis accommodation through Magnolia Place, contact Housing Connect Launceston on 1800 800 588.
Want to join the push? See the petition to remove legal fees for lodging an interim family violence order here.
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