Indigenous women are suffering more injury and death from domestic and family-related violence, and more children are remaining separated from their families, due to a lack of appropriate accommodation.
The study revealed that shortage of emergency and long-term housing means Indigenous women often have no choice but to return to an unsafe home, putting their children at risk of removal by child protection authorities, particularly in remote and regional Australia.
The research also found that the difficulty of accessing stable long-term accommodation is a significant barrier to reunification once children have been removed.
“If women leaving a violent home cannot find long-term stable housing, generally, within a 12-month timeframe, they may lose their children permanently,” lead author and UNSW Sydney senior law lecturer Dr Kyllie Cripps says.
It was also highlighted that in instances where men are excluded via court orders from the family home as a consequence of their violence, they too face precarious housing situations and are, in effect, made homeless. As a consequence, they usually return to the family home, making this policy largely ineffective in the Indigenous context.
“In the absence of an equivalent service response for men, providing services to women and children in isolation to the men is, at best, a Band-Aid solution of limited long-term effectiveness.,” Dr Cripps said.