CANBERRA, AAP – It took Talie Star about half a dozen attempts to get away from her abusive husband, but what came next was so much worse.
Landlords hiked her rent, she became homeless and had to navigate a nightmare of bureaucracy.
“The rental market is an absolute nightmare. And if you’ve been through domestic and family violence, it’s even worse,” Ms Star told AAP.
It took her between five and seven years to secure suitable housing.
But so many women and children do not.
A report by Equity Economics shows about 9120 victims face homelessness each year after fleeing family violence.
Approximately 7690 return to their abusers because there’s nowhere to go.
COVID has made a bad situation worse, with victims more isolated at home with their abusers.
Ahead of a national women’s safety summit later this month, the report urges the federal government to spend $7.6 billion on another 16,810 social housing units.
The benefits would dwarf the costs, the report for an Everybody’s Home campaign says.
This is because the flow-on costs of women returning to their perpetrators add up to $122.5 million a year.
Homelessness experienced by women fleeing violence also carries a $257 million annual price tag.
Ms Star’s husband was emotionally, psychologically and physically abusive.
“He was charming, everyone thought he was just the most wonderful person,” she said.
Her degenerative spinal condition made leaving even harder.
“What happened next was much worse because I was not only experiencing periods of homelessness, I was dealing with housing and Centrelink and other organisations, which all work on this power and control system,” she said.
“I was experiencing coercive control, both with government systems and then with my ex, and trying to manage and survive.”
Now an advocate and consultant, Ms Star wants politicians to put their money where their mouth is if they’re serious about confronting domestic abuse.
“I want to say to politicians, ‘are you really listening’,” Ms Star said.
“Because what I’m hearing is a lot of smokescreen stuff, a lot of hearsay, and it’s not working.”
HOW COVID HAS MADE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE WORSE
* Between 2019 and 2020, there was a nine per cent increase in police reports of domestic violence
* An Australian Institute of Criminology survey of 15,000 people in May 2020 found an increase in the numbers of women experiencing domestic abuse
* Two-thirds of women who experienced abuse in the three months prior said it was for the first time, or reported an escalation in its frequency or severity
* Family violence was the most common reason women and children sought help from specialist homelessness services
* But only 3.2 per cent of survivors had adequate long-term housing