56,000 women are homeless and more than one in two women are turned away from crisis shelters every night in Australia*. Existing services cannot meet the demand for crisis accommodation for homeless women.
Women's Community Shelters
June 2018 - December 2020
Women’s Community Shelters Limited works with communities to establish short-term emergency accommodation and support. It provides a safe environment that enables homeless women to rebuild self-esteem and achieve control and fulfilment of their lives.
Women’s Community Shelters (WCS) works with communities in NSW to establish short-term emergency accommodation for homeless women. Working together with the government, philanthropic businesses and the community, WCS use an innovative ‘tri-partite’ funding model to establish and operate shelters for women. These shelters help meet women’s immediate need for accommodation.
But ongoing help is needed…
The number one cause for women’s homelessness in Australia is domestic violence. For a woman to escape domestic violence, she not only needs a short-term safe environment, but ongoing help to find affordable housing and a plan to maintain housing over the long-term. Access to healthcare, counselling, legal help and employment options are just some of the services required.
Imagine for a moment that you’ve finally escaped from your violent partner. You’ve bundled your kids into the car with only a bag of clothes, and then left suddenly before he returns home. You know you can’t ever go back, but you’ve got nothing, no fridge, bed, furniture and nowhere to go. You might work part-time or not at all. You mightn’t even have your own bank account. How will you afford to rent somewhere? This is the reality for many homeless women.
Helping women with practical solutions
Recognising the needs of women facing homelessness and often domestic violence, WCS established an outreach program in 2016, to assist women and children as they transition from crisis to long-term housing. The program helps homeless women with practical solutions including education grants, employment opportunities and household essentials.
Our Community Program is supporting WCS to extend this program to two new shelters. This will give more women access to the outreach program so they can get back on their feet and into a secure housing situation as soon as possible.
Sarah and her two children arrived at a WCS shelter after fleeing from domestic violence. Sarah didn’t feel it was safe for her and her children to remain in their home. Her ex-husband left her with no money, shelter or food.
While Sarah and her children stayed at the shelter, they made it their home. Smells of their cultural food and laughter filled the shelter and had a positive impact on the staff and other residents. During their time at the shelter, they bought with them a sense of family and were always willing to help others with any task, big or small.
Sarah and her family moved into their new home, a WCS transitional property, one week before Christmas. “The children were so excited to have their own rooms and a backyard to use their new toys and balls in.” Their outreach worker showed the children where their new schools would be and showed them around the neighbourhood.
Despite Sarah’s visa issues, the family were looking forward to their new life together in their new home. They showed strength and resilience and proved they could get through anything. Sarah remained hopeful for their future and recently shared the good news that she will be starting a new job in the next few weeks.
Following 35 years of being subjected to extreme domestic violence from her husband, Nicole found the courage to leave her relationship and went to live with her son and his family. However, she endured further domestic violence here from her daughter-in-law. With no safe place to go, Nicole came to a WCS shelter.
During her stay at the shelter, with the support of the staff, Nicole underwent a knee replacement, which she wouldn’t have been able to do if she was homeless. The shelter staff helped by taking her to and from appointments and the other residents also supported her through this tough time. Nicole showed amazing strength and was up walking around and cleaning the very next day! Not even a knee replacement could stop her.
The shelter staff were impressed with Nicole’s growing resilience, confidence and independence during her stay. She stayed at the shelter for around six months and filled the place with joy and happiness. Nicole always looked after other residents and made lifelong friends. “She treated everyone like family - some of the children even called her grandma.”
Nicole moved into a house with other single older women just before Christmas. When her outreach worker visited her, she was greeted by Nicole’s big smile and a massive home cooked lunch. The outreach worker was so glad that Nicole was starting a new life, confident and happy on her own. Nicole’s kind nature was certainly missed by the residents and workers at WCS.