Homelessness and domestic violence – we can do more
In NSW, domestic violence related assaults increased 1.1% over a 24-month period to March 2021, from 31,607 to 31,947 (BOCSAR, 2021). One of the many impacts of this horrendous increase, rarely discussed openly, is the very real possibility of experiencing homelessness when leaving a domestic violence situation.
This is when programs like the Department of Communities and Justice’s Together Home, shine. We work with Argyle Housing to deliver Together Home, a program that supports the social and emotional wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness in the Murrumbidgee region.
Together Home team members, Ash Credlin (Team Lead), Sally White (Intensive Case Worker) and Rachael McPhail (Intensive Case Manager), work first-hand with the people experiencing these crimes in the Murrumbidgee. The team notice that breaking down barriers and finding solutions with clients can take time.
“I have five clients who are homeless because of domestic violence – one client fled another state with their five children because they did not feel safe.
This person had never been homeless before entering this violent relationship. It really shows that homelessness doesn’t discriminate,” Sally said.
“The beauty of the Together Home program is that it is an intensive two-year case management program, so we build strong relationships with our clients – I like to make sure they receive the best support and feel safe.”
We then asked Sally what she is most proud of in her role, this got her thinking and she became quite emotional.
“I was able to link a client with Rebuilding Smiles, a life changing program providing oral health care to the victims of domestic violence through treatment provided by volunteers.
Since receiving denture fittings, this client has been able to re-enrol back into university and gain their confidence and life back. That was a special moment in my career,” Sally said.
We asked Ash the same questions and he answered swiftly.
“My proudest moment was having a domestic violence client call the police – this can be a terrifying step and I am so proud of how brave this client was,” Ash said.
He also highlighted that domestic violence victims can be both male and female, and makes sure that male victims are linked with resources and help as well – really reiterating what Sally touched on – domestic violence doesn’t discriminate.
“These people just need someone that cares, who is open minded and who doesn’t judge. My team does that exceptionally well – they are empathic problem solvers and advocate for their clients.
They do a damn good job at it,” Ash said.
If we have learnt one thing from Ash and Sally today, it is that domestic violence does not discriminate – anyone can be affected – but more than anything else there are people who can support you.