Advocating for Change: Submission to Address Rental and Housing Affordability Crisis in Victoria

WHISE is pleased to announce its submission to the Inquiry into the rental and housing affordability crisis in Victoria. With a dedicated focus on applying a gender lens to this critical issue, WHISE aims to demonstrate the importance of equitable access to housing for all women and their children.

“Housing and homelessness are gendered issues with a disproportionately higher number of women experiencing housing instability than men,” says Kit McMahon, WHISE CEO.

“Women’s health and wellbeing are profoundly affected by structural and social factors, including family violence, gendered discrimination, disability, and mental health.

“These issues are further compounded by systemic barriers and structures that perpetuate disadvantage among women.”

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) some groups of women are especially vulnerable to homelessness, including Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women, formerly incarcerated women, single parent mothers, women who are culturally and linguistically diverse (particularly those with student or temporary vias), women aged 55 and older, LGBTQI+ people, young women (i.e., students), women with low incomes, or those with a disability or mental illness.

It is also reported that the lack of safe, affordable housing is a critical issue, and Victoria’s specialist homelessness services can’t provide enough accommodation and other supports, turning away 57 women every day.

WHISE’s submission addresses the unique experiences of women and gender diverse individuals, providing comprehensive insights and recommendations to inform policy development.

WHISE advocates for a more integrated approach to affordable housing, emphasising the intersectionality between health, social policy, and housing needs, rather than solely focusing on development policy and the interests of developers.

There are numerous and overlapping barriers to housing for victims of family violence, which place women’s safety and wellbeing at risk. Some of these barriers include low income, housing discrimination against them as survivors of family violence, and ongoing harassment and abuse by the perpetrator.

The Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce (which would help women find affordable housing in the private market) was established in May 2016. While this recommendation has been approved, and progress to establish the taskforce has been made, the taskforce is yet to be physically implemented.

WHISE understands that careful planning and strategic evaluations need to be undertaken to provide an evidence base support framework for policy and program development to achieve high quality service delivery, in order to reach the needs of victim survivors. Saying this, we argue that there is substantial evidence that can support the first stage of implementation which can be improved and adjusted with the development of further research.

“Survivors of family violence cannot wait for this support, fasting tracking this service will ensure safe affordable housing,” says McMahon.

“We firmly believe that an effective policy platform for affordable housing must address the intertwined nature of health, social equity, and housing stability.

“By adopting a gender lens, we can foster inclusive and sustainable solutions that benefit all members of our community.”

WHISE’s submission contributes to the ongoing dialogue surrounding the rental and housing affordability crisis in Victoria, encouraging policymakers and stakeholders to consider the gendered aspects of the issue. The organisation remains committed to advancing the rights and well-being of women and gender diverse individuals and looks forward to collaborating with decision-makers to drive positive change.

For media inquiries, please contact: WHISE Communications Lead, Dos Hetherington on 0412 317 334

Access to Reproductive Healthcare