Rent subsidy and wrap-around support services for households who have experienced family violence will be expanded in Ballarat.
The Department of Health and Human Services has funded homelessness and housing support agency Haven; Home Safe to secure an additional 50 head-leased properties for women and children escaping family violence.
Ballarat is included as one of the regional sites for the expansion as part of the agency's Moving On program.
Haven; Home Safe chief operations officer Trudi Ray said the aim of the program was to increase the supply of medium to long-term affordable rental housing.
"The program means women and their families can access the support they need to stay safe and get back on their feet," Ms Ray said.
Haven; Home Safe sub-lets properties to approved applicants for a period of up to 12 months, while locally based family violence services provide the wrap-around supports.
The program means women and their families can access the support they need to stay safe and get back on their feet.Trudi Ray, Haven; Home Safe
Victim-survivors are directly involved in the sourcing and selection of their head-leased property.
"We use a rent step-up model which helps our clients slowly transition towards paying full market rent by the end of the 12 months," Ms Ray said.
Mary* accessed support services for the first time at 71 years of age after enduring decades of family violence.
Mary had been working in the social support sector and said she had witnessed many cases that she perceived worse than her own.
When Moving On came to her attention, Mary said she finally felt she had a chance to leave.
The security and stability of her affordable rental property gave Mary the opportunity, time, and confidence to separate from her husband.
After 12-months, Mary took over the private lease, finalised her divorce, and is planning to purchase her own home.
Haven; Home Safe data shows 92 per cent of victim-survivors transitioned to a private rental lease of their chosen property at the end of the 12-month head-lease period in previous years of the program.
This is the fourth consecutive year the agency has received funding for the Moving On program.
The immediate focus will be to support clients in Melbourne and the rollout will then move to Bendigo and other regional areas including Ballarat, Geelong, Warrnambool and Mildura/ Swan Hill.
An Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute report released last year found a lack of options for secure long-term housing is the main challenge facing domestic and family violence services and their clients.
The report, titled Housing outcomes after domestic and family violence, revealed the lack of adequate and affordable housing was leading some women to make the decision to return to, or remain in, a violent relationship.
Many decide returning to the perpetrator is a better, safer option for them and their children instead of housing options that are substandard, in a neighbourhood that feels dangerous or involve frequent moves.
One of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence was to "give priority to victims gaining stable housing as quickly as possible".
*not her real name
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