WA Government to extend housing initiative for domestic violence survivors

The WA Government has announced the extension of a program that works with landlords and real estate agents to help women and children fleeing family and domestic violence.

The initiative gives vulnerable people access to safe housing and will see Orana House Women’s Refuge allocated an additional $150,000 to extend the Housing Families Project for a further 12 months.

The initiative works with real estate agents and landlords to help women across Perth fleeing family and domestic violence to find safe and stable housing.

Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) President Joe White said these types of programs made a significant difference to those people in need of help.

“There’s no doubt this is going to be beneficial,” Mr White said.

“Property managers are often at the coal face and they are pretty aware and pretty engaged and there’s always a fair bit of proactivity around these issues.

“In these circumstances, they’ll do everything they can to get the people out of risk, so the system is working pretty well.

“Anything you can do to get people out of domestic violence, and particularly the kids, is a good thing to do.”

Mr White said having more options for those needing emergency accommodation was incredibly important given the state of the rental market.

“It has been difficult lately because you’re needing an additional house to solve the problem and there hasn’t been an additional house,” he said.

“So it’s been a really tricky situation.”

The Housing Families project was originally funded as an initiative under the Commonwealth Government’s National Partnership Agreement on COVID-19 Domestic and Family Violence Responses. 

Orana House was initially allocated $144,340 to deliver the project from 1 June 2021 to 31 May 2022.

The additional $150,000 will see the program funded until November 2023.

On its website, Orana House said the program was set up following research into the harmful effects of the tight rental market.

“Bearing a significant brunt are women, often with young children, who’ve come to us because they’re escaping from violence in the one place where they should have felt safest – their homes,” Orana House said.

“Extensive surveys showed that our clients face constant discrimination in the rental market.

“They’re at risk of becoming homeless through no fault of their own.”

Orana House said its research showed landlords often didn’t want domestic violence victims as tenants due to the mistaken belief the perpetrator would cause property damage.

“The reality is that our clients make excellent tenants,” the service said.

“We know this because they live in our crisis and transitional accommodation for extended periods.

“They’re responsible, clean and house-proud. Above all, they deserve a home where they can live free from violence.”

WA Government Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk said safe housing was a necessity for everyone.

“Family and domestic violence takes a profound and long-term toll on women’s health and wellbeing, on families and communities, and on society as a whole,” Ms McGurk said.

“Safe housing for women and children escaping family violence is critical to their recovery and it would not be possible without the dedication of community sector organisations such as Orana House.

“The State Government is working hard to support their important role helping victim-survivors change their lives for the better.”

Agencies, property managers and landlords looking to help or for more information can click here.

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.