The Department of Housing and Public Works (HPW) is responsible for the delivery of homelessness services in Queensland, including services for women and children escaping domestic and family violence.
Domestic violence is a major contributor to homelessness. One in three women who seek assistance from specialist homelessness services across Australia are affected by domestic and family violence. As a result, we are committed to addressing the growing problem of domestic and family violence in Queensland.
We have three key roles to play in addressing this issue.
- Provide housing services
- Fund homelessness services for women and children escaping domestic violence
- Enable and facilitate integrated service responses.
Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence
On 10 September 2014, the Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, MP established the Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland, chaired by the Honourable Quentin Bryce AD CVO, former Governor-General of Australia.
The Taskforce was requested to review Queensland’s domestic and family violence support systems and provide recommendations on how to improve them and reduce future incidents of domestic violence.
On 28 February 2015 the Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland report was presented to the Premier.
This report made 140 recommendations based on the insights gathered from five months of engagement with communities and individuals. The recommendations set the vision and direction for a Queensland strategy to end domestic and family violence and ensure those affected have access to safety and support.
Queensland Government response
The Queensland Government has accepted the 121 Government specific recommendations and supported the remainder.
Read the Queensland Government Response to the Report and Implementation Plan.
The department has the lead responsibility for responding to five of the Taskforce’s recommendations—42, 84, 85, 87 and 88.
Our progress as at May 2016 is provided below.
The Queensland Government amends the Queensland Procurement Policy and Guidelines to expand upon Principle 4: “We use our procurement to advance the government’s economic, environmental and social objectives and support the long-term wellbeing of our community”, to include consideration of workplace policies concerning domestic and family violence as part of the criteria for determining ‘ethical and socially responsible suppliers’.
Accepted. The Queensland Government has established an Interdepartmental Committee to review government procurement, which will include consideration of government procurement policy and how various social initiatives, such as workplace policies concerning domestic and family violence, can be best implemented within the procurement framework.
The department has commenced planning as to how various social initiatives, such as workplace policies concerning domestic and family violence, can be best implemented within the procurement framework.
The Queensland Government immediately funds two 72-hour crisis shelters in Brisbane and Townsville respectively for women and children escaping violence so that immediate safety and support can be met while awaiting a refuge placement.
Accepted. The Queensland Government acknowledges the importance of crisis accommodation to support those escaping domestic and family violence and has committed to establishing two supported accommodation services in Brisbane and Townsville.
The department has worked collaboratively with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (DCCSDS) to deliver the two new crisis shelters in Brisbane and Townsville for women and children escaping domestic and family violence.
This enables the alignment between Specialist Homelessness Services, including women’s refuges, and the broader housing service system.
The providers for the new services were procured by DCCSDS in late 2015 and the services commenced operating on 18 December 2015.
The new shelters are also contributing to the delivery of Recommendation 87 with the shelters catering for families with companion animals.
We are now working with DCCSDS to plan for a co-design process to improve the current service model. The co-design process will also involve service providers, service users and other key stakeholders.
The Queensland Government:
a. Transfers responsibility and funding for domestic and family violence shelters back to a single portfolio, i.e. the portfolio that is responsible for the broader domestic and family violence service response.
b. Commits to maintaining dedicated funding for specialist domestic and family violence accommodation, including refuges (non-competitive with generic crisis accommodation providers such as homelessness service providers).
Accepted. The state of Queensland will continue to maintain dedicated funding for domestic and family violence shelters. Responsibility for funding administration of domestic and family violence shelters will be transferred to the DCCSDS.
85a. The government agreed that responsibility for policy, planning and contract management for broad and specialist homelessness and housing system and programs remains with HPW, while commissioning and procurement for shelters will be undertaken by DCCSDS, in liaison with HPW.
The departments are working together to develop the arrangements and processes required to implement the new approach to funding temporary supported accommodation services for women and children escaping domestic and family violence.
85b. The department has negotiated new service agreements with all existing providers and funding homelessness services specialising in delivering accommodation and support for women and children escaping domestic and family violence effective 30 June 2018.
The Queensland Government pilots a refuge that caters for families with companion animals with a view to rollout more flexible refuges into the future to meet the needs of victims.
Accepted. The Queensland Government acknowledges the importance of crisis accommodation to support those escaping domestic and family violence and will pilot a refuge for victims who have companion animals.
The new Brisbane and Townsville shelters delivered in response to Recommendation 84 accommodate companion animals wherever possible. The Brisbane service has reported that a number of cats and dogs have already been accommodated.
The department will evaluate this service element, as part of a broader evaluation of the shelters, to inform further program development and the delivery of pet friendly services in the future.
The Queensland Government expands the range of responses to alleviate housing stress and homelessness for women and children escaping domestic and family violence including reducing the eligibility criteria on programs such as Rental Grants and Bond Loans.
Accepted. The Queensland Government is committed to alleviating housing stress and homelessness for women and their children escaping violence. The Government will be implementing processes to streamline access to products such as Bond Loans and Rental Grants which will reduce barriers to women and children affected by domestic and family violence accessing private rental tenancies. Read the Domestic and Family Violence fact sheet (PDF, 46KB) (RTF, 368KB) for more information.
We have undertaken a number of actions to ensure that housing assistance is provided appropriately when people are impacted by domestic and family violence. We have:
- made improvements to the Housing Needs Assessment tool to help us more easily identify women and children affected by domestic and family violence
- automated bond loan approvals for clients escaping domestic and family violence who have verified their circumstances
- written to Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Homelessness Service providers to clarify the supportive approach that clients escaping domestic and family violence can expect to receive from Housing Service Centres in relation to:
- bond loans and rental grants
- RentConnect services
- social housing assistance
- tenants and management of social housing tenancies
- developed and distributed information to Housing Service Centres that details and clarifies housing assistance available for client impacted by domestic and family violence
- engaged with Housing Service Centre staff and will continue to, to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of the assistance that is to be provided to women and children escaping domestic and family violence and the support services that are available to assist so appropriate and timely referrals can be made when needed
- reviewed existing social housing applications and transfer requests that have identified domestic and family violence and explored options for providing assistance and supportive responses.
Our contribution to other recommendations
The department is collaborating with other government agencies to respond to a number other recommendations for example:
DCCSDS is leading this recommendation and preparing to implement integrated response pilots in a metro location, a regional location and a discrete Indigenous community.
Logan/Beenleigh has been selected as the site for the metro pilot. Specific locations for the regional and discrete Indigenous community pilots are yet to be determined.
The department is assisting by participating in working groups tasked with planning and implementing the pilots.
Find out more about the court process for Queenslanders impacted by domestic and family violence.