Why crisis accommodation is just as important as prevention

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, AKA White Ribbon Day

There was once a town whose playground was at the edge of a cliff. Every so often a child would fall off the cliff. Finally, the town council decided that something should be done about the serious injuries to children. After much discussion, the council was deadlocked. Some council members wanted to put a fence at the top of the cliff; others wanted an ambulance at the bottom.

It makes sense to put a fence at the top of the cliff – preventing damage. The same could be said about domestic violence. Prevention is crucial to addressing the domestic violence crisis Australia is experiencing.
However, at this point, removing the 'ambulance' from the bottom of the cliff is nonsensical. Until that robust fence established, the ambulance is vital.

"We need to address the immediate consequences of violence," CEO of Homelessness Australia, Glenda Stevens said. "And this can only be done through the provision of crisis accommodation and support services."

250,000 people receive help from homelessness services each year, with domestic violence being cited as the single largest main reason for seeking assistance. An additional 150,000 people are turned away; 14% of these will continue to seek help and get assistance, but for the other 86% - their outcome is not known.

Homelessness services are essential for ensuring the immediate and ongoing safety of women and children who are experiencing, or a risk of, violence. They provide shelter and staff are skilled in assessing and managing vulnerable and disorientated women through crises and risk. Homelessness services also provide referrals to other essential support services.

Prevention and response are both equally important in addressing the domestic violence crisis. "We cannot invest in one at the expense of the other. However, through the increased investment in prevention and early intervention programs we will eventually see a decrease in the need for crisis accommodation."

"We want to see all women, and children, who need assistance due to domestic violence supported when they need it. Ultimately, we want to see our domestic violence refuges empty because prevention programs have worked. However that may take a while so in the meantime we need to strengthen the front line services so that women and children are not turned away and have the specialised support they need."