Friday, April 26, 2024

Southern Grampians address secure housing crisis

Women and children fleeing domestic violence or experiencing homelessness will be offered secure accommodation in a new development being built in the Victorian town of Hamilton by Women’s Housing Limited, with support from Southern Grampians Shire Council.

Women’s Housing Limited (WHL) is a state-wide not for profit organisation that provides low-cost housing to women at risk of homelessness. Women and their children make up an increasingly large percentage of those in need of affordable housing. These are typically older women over 55 and women who are forced to leave their home because of family violence.

Since 2011, there has been a 31% increase in the number of women aged 55+ experiencing homelessness. Domestic and family violence is the number one reason women become homeless in Australia with 40% of female clients nominating it as the main reason for seeking homelessness assistance.

Southern Grampians Shire Council Mayor, Bruach Colliton said this was an extremely important development for the women of Hamilton.

“Unfortunately, we do have a significant issue with family violence in our community. Recent data shows per 100,000 people there are 1907 reportable incidents of domestic violence in our region. This puts us significantly above the State average,” Mayor Colliton said.

“We also know that domestic violence is strongly linked with homelessness for women, particularly women over 55. Older women are the fastest growing group of people experiencing homelessness in Australia.”

He said there was a serious issue with a lack of available housing and rental properties in Southern Grampians.

“These housing projects will address this and provide safe, high-quality homes for women and their children from our community. It is also important we facilitate housing which has convenient walkable access to services. The sites in question achieve this outcome.”

“This project is really timely given we are currently in the 16 days of Activism – a campaign to end violence against women and children. I think it would stagger people in Hamilton to know how desperately we need this kind of housing.

“We have a serious problem here and Council has a role to play in helping to facilitate a solution. I appreciate that there may be opposition to this type of development but I’d like to ask people to put themselves in someone else’s shoes for a minute and consider what they would do if faced with homelessness. This housing will help women and their children in our own community who are facing unimaginable crisis and I’m very pleased that we are able to support that”.

“We’ve worked closely with WHL on this project over the last few months and look forward to the build process”, the Mayor said.

Plan A, who WHL have engaged to project manage this development, have advised:

• A traffic engineers report concludes that the traffic from this site will have a negligible impact on the safety and operation of Ballarat Rd and surrounding road network. VicRoads has confirmed it has no objection;
• A landscape plan has been prepared showing high quality landscaping and retention of some trees along Ballarat Rd;
• The design brief will deliver high quality and durable homes that exceed current standard requirements for energy efficiency and liveability guidelines and within a landscaped setting;
• WHL is an award-winning developer and provider of affordable community housing. WHL will retain long term ownership and management of the property on completion;
• WHL has engaged Metricon as its builder. Metricon is the largest home builder in Australia and will ensure a quality-built form outcome;
• The project is similar in scale and density to the neighbouring development in Lakeside Court but arguably will have a superior design aesthetic.

Chief Executive Officer of WHL, Judy Line says there had never been a greater need for affordable social housing for vulnerable women and children.

“Today, more than ever before, women (and their children) are facing even greater threats from domestic violence. The COVID pandemic has meant they also face the loss of income from insecure employment or closed workplaces, with all the associated implications for their ability to gain and sustain a place they can safely call home,” Ms Line said.

“These properties are ideal for women looking for affordable housing options, offering sustainable, long-term tenancies. Many of our renters are older women, women escaping family violence and single women and children seeking affordable housing.

“We have been, and will continue to, work closely with local support agencies in Hamilton, the Southern Grampians Shire Council and the local real estate agents to ensure this project is a success for both the community and the vulnerable women in Hamilton,” Ms Line concluded.

Council’s Interim CEO, Tony Doyle, said he had previously been involved in projects with WHL at Knox City Council.

“I was pleased when I learnt these homes would be owned and operated by Women’s Housing Ltd. In my previous role, I had the pleasure of working with Women’s Housing Ltd on a couple of developments in Bayswater (Melbourne). They are quality developments that are truly life changing for the women who live there,” Mr Doyle said.

More information on Women’s Housing Ltd and their successful developments across Victoria is available at online at https://womenshousing.com.au/.

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