The Salvation Army is one of the largest providers of family violence services in Australia. Nationally, The Salvation Army has, in the last 12 months, supported approximately 6,000 clients through our numerous family violence and accommodation services. We provide secure accommodation for women and women with children in a number of confidential locations, including emergency and medium-term accommodation. Independent living services are also provided, where women are encouraged to take control of their lives and are empowered to break the cycle of abuse through a range of workshops and living skills programs.
While The Salvation Army’s clients represent only a fraction of those experiencing family violence across the community, the women and children with whom we come into contact through these services represent the hidden face of family violence which is now acknowledged as a serious national issue requiring greater prominence in public policy and community responses.
Issues for consideration
Family violence continues to present as a major national social problem and experience shows us that women escaping family violence represent the majority of those seeking assistance from homelessness services. The massive personal and social costs attributed to family violence are also accompanied by significant economic costs, some of which have been acknowledged by the recent move by government and some large corporations to provide paid leave for those experiencing violence. The National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children has projected that, without appropriate action, three quarters of a million Australian women will experience and report violence in the period of 2021-22, costing the Australian economy $15.6 billion(18).
Importantly, there has been increasing numbers of women presenting at our family violence services who have arrived in Australia on spousal visas and, following subsequent violence and family breakdown, have no ability to earn an independent income. This situation has created a major obstacle for these women to escape a violent domestic situation and also places services under additional financial pressure because of their inability to collect any accommodation fees.