Housing and Justice strategy needed for victims of domestic abuse
Labour Senator Ivana Bacik has called on the Government to outline its plans to protect victims of domestic abuse and ensure their access to safe accommodation. Responding to figures released from Women’s Aid today highlighting a 43% increase in women reporting domestic abuse during the pandemic, Senator Bacik said that action must be taken to protect women who experience the cruel trauma of living with an abuser.
Senator Bacik said:
“To feel unsafe in your home, what should be your sanctuary, is a harrowing experience. Our homes have become our refuge, particularly during Covid when we have all been staying at home to protect ourselves. It is shocking to learn that more than 30,000 disclosures of abuse were made in 2020. The Housing Minister needs to outline proposals to protect women and children who cannot continue to live in an abusive setting; and strengthened provisions on domestic violence should also be outlined by the Minister for Justice.
“Covid-19 has exposed the frailty in infrastructure which aims to prevent and respond to domestic violence. Victims of domestic abuse exist in a hidden form of homelessness that is not addressed in national homeless figures. Domestic abuse refuges offer support to women and children in these situations, but spaces are limited. Between March and August 2020, 441 women were admitted to a domestic abuse refuge, Safe Home, or Supported Housing. However, there were an additional 1,351 unmet requests for refuge due to a lack of space.
“Our broken housing system is trapping women in particular into abusive situations, rather than risking homelessness.
“Prior to the negotiation of the Programme for Government, organisations in the sector called for a dedicated Minister with responsibility for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. I supported those calls at the time, and still believe that we missed the chance during government formation talks to develop a more targeted approach to addressing domestic and gender-based violence. I am now calling on the Ministers for Housing and for Justice to take urgent, targeted actions to address domestic violence, and in particular to ensure that adequate housing resources are provided to support women and children so severely affected.”