Investing in new social housing for survivors of domestic violence ‘could boost Australian economy’

<span>Photograph: Roos Koole/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Roos Koole/Getty Images

Investment in new social housing for survivors of family and domestic violence in Australia would not only give safety and security to some of those needing it the most, it also makes economic sense, new analysis has found.

The pandemic has taken some of the attention away from the issue of domestic and family violence, despite an escalation of abuse during this time and the fact that it is the main reason women and children seek specialist homelessness services.

Ahead of the national women’s safety summit later this month, the Everybody’s Home campaign, which aims to address housing inequity and shortfalls across Australia, has released the results of research commissioned to find out just how much a new social housing build across the nation would cost.

The Equity Economics research estimated more than 7,600 people returned to violent partners, while 9,120 women a year became homeless after escaping violent situations. Just over 3% find a long-term housing solution.

Related: Social housing rescued me when I fled domestic violence in 1970s Australia. That safety net has long gone | Anonymous

Kate Colvin, the national spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, said the research showed investing in social housing had multiple benefits, including for the economy itself.

“If the commonwealth government invested in 16,800 additional social housing units the $7.6bn cost would be dwarfed by immediate economic benefits of $15.3bn and the creation of 47,000 new jobs,” she said.

It found the additional social housing would generate savings of $122.5m in a year due to women not returning to a violent partner and a further $257m in a year in savings due to women not experiencing homelessness after leaving their homes due to family and domestic violence.

“More than 9,000 women and children face homelessness each year after leaving a violent partner. As this report highlights, many simply have nowhere to go.

“Victims and survivors of domestic and family violence are often criticised for returning to their abusive partners but an overwhelming majority have to choose between that and homelessness.

“This report demonstrates an urgent need for an additional 16,800 social housing units to ensure women and children have somewhere to go when they are forced to leave their homes due to domestic and family violence. Stable housing is critical to their safety and wellbeing.

“Ideally, women would stay in their homes and perpetrators would be removed during instances of family violence. The harsh reality is that women need to leave to find safety.

“By building more social housing, the federal government can inject billions of dollars into our economy, create tens of thousands of jobs and prove it is serious about helping victims of domestic and family violence.”