Rental crisis hits as refuge does it tough

By KUE DAVIS

WARRINA Women and Children's Refuge is increasingly having to find alternative accommodation for women seeking refuge, due to a lack of accommodation space.

In July alone, Warrina Refuge was forced to refuse 23 women and 28 children seeking refuge due to insufficient accommodation.

Ros Vincent, Child Support Worker at the refuge, said that lack of rental accommodation for women leaving the refuge has meant that women are staying longer.

"Women are now staying for around 12 weeks on average. The lack of availability of private rentals is meaning that our turn over is not as high, which means we haven't been able to take as many people in," Ros said.

Ros said that on average, around 15 people are referred on per month, but the problem is rising with the lack of places for women to go after they leave the refuge.

"The women are applying daily for houses and getting knocked back. I'm not really sure how we are going to tackle the problem, because it's up to the real estate and property owner who gets the rental."

Despite the lack of accommodation, the staff at Warrina are doing their best and have strategies in place for women they can not accommodate.

"We're in contact with the Department of Housing all the time. If we don't have room for someone, we will refer them either to the Department of Housing after hours emergency, the Domestic Violence Helpline or the Crisis Housing Accommodation Brokerage Service," Ros said.

"The Crisis Housing Accommodation Brokerage Service can place an individual into hotel/motel accommodation for up to 28 days in a calendar year," Ros said.

"We also have a great working relationship with Grafton Women's Refuge. In certain situations, women can go to Grafton and then we bring them back to Coffs when we have the room," she said.

These options, however, are all still dependent upon availability.

Warrina Women and Children's Refuge provides safety and security for women and children escaping sexual, emotional, physical and verbal abuse.

Caring for women and children for all backgrounds, Warrina Refuge also provides personal support, counselling, legal advice and a follow-up program.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, there is a way out.

Warrina Women and Children's Refuge Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 6652 4000.



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