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More victims seek support

Posted by on 18/07/2018

Tasmanian specialist homelessness services hadthe country’shighest annual average growthofdomestic and family violence clients. SHS agencies experienced a15 per centincrease of domestic violence clients each year between 2011-12 and 2015-16.

Tasmania also saw the thirdhighest estimated use of SHSin Australia, with 152 clients per 10,000 people in 2015-16.

The data wasdetailed in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’sSpecialist Homelessness Services in 2015-16 report, released on Thursday.

Nationally, 38 per cent of SHS clients sought support due to domestic or family violence. AIHW spokeswoman Anna Ritson said that increases in client numbers found in the reportusually reflected increased availability of services, not necessarily a change in the underlying level of domestic violence and homelessness.

Shelter Tasmania executive officer Pattie Chugg said it was hard to pinpoint the “mainreason” for the increase in violence victims seeking support.

“It’s hard to say the main reason for this increase, but we’ve not seen an increase in service capacity in this time,” Ms Chugg said.

“In fact our members who provide crisis accommodation and long term housing consistently tell us that the chronic shortage of accommodation continues to leave victims of family violence with nowhere to go,” she said.

“Accommodation for men with children in especially difficult to find.”

Support, Help and Empowerment executive officer Alina Thomas said national and state family violence campaigns had seen an increasein communityawareness.

Ms Thomas said there was no evidence to indicate there had been an actual increase in domestic violence.

“I think we need a lot more services for special populations,” Ms Thomas said.

“I think a lot of women are forced into unsafe domestic arrangements because of the lack of alternatives,” she said.

Ms Chugg said increasing demand for services without correlating funding increases meant that homelessness services had to“share what they can with as many clients as possible”.

“In practice this means that while more people are supported, they’re not always able to provide the level of support needed that might keep people out of homelessness,” Ms Chugg said.

“Under this situation homelessness can become a bit of a treadmill.”

Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma said the state government’s Family Violence Action Plan and Affordable Housing Action Plan “both recognise the need to provide more safe and secure housing services to those affected by family violence”.

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