Five houses will be purchased or leased in Ballarat to support women and children fleeing family violence.
The state government’s $50 million Rapid Housing Assistance program will fund the allocation of houses through Housing Choices Australia and Aboriginal Housing Victoria.
A Housing Choices Australia spokesperson confirmed it will purchase four homes, with Berry Street to work in participation to offer support systems. The spokesperson said the buildings would be a mix of one, two and three bedrooms.
It’s understood the houses are yet to be purchased. Aboriginal Housing Victoria was contacted for comment on the status of the other home.
Berry Street Family Violence team leader Denise Sheridan said the houses will offer crucial stability for women and children who are escaping abusive conditions.
It’s always really uncertain for women when they’re leaving as to where they’re actually going to land,” she said.
“It’s important that they’re safe.
“For women and children having to move from their home, being able to stabilize them reduces the impact on their family.”
Ms Sheridan said police referrals for cases of family violence had increased last financial year to 2112 – up from 1925 from 2014-15.
Part of Berry Street’s support system for family violence includes using engagement workers to talk to the perpetrators.
“We have engagement workers to find out what’s going on with them,” Ms Sheridan said.
“It’s important to have that discussion, because they’re human too.
“(But) it’s also about holding perpetrators to account for their behavior.”
Berry Street provides a level support (indirect or otherwise) for around 140 women and 172 children seeking support on the back of family violence.
The Rapid Housing Assistance program will see 300 Victorian properties utilised, with 184 purchased and 124 leased in response to the Royal Commission into family violence.