White Ribbon Day, November 25, marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence against Women, which ends on Human Rights Day (December 10).
PIAC works to support women escaping domestic violence by providing access to justice via our free legal advice clinics, run by the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS). These services offer free legal assistance at welfare agencies throughout Sydney and now at a specialist women-only clinic at the Joy Cummings Centre in Newcastle.
Domestic and family violence remain the biggest cause of homelessness amongst women. In fact, statistics from HPLS show that women are more than three times more likely to seek help from our clinics with family law and debt issues. This reflects the significant social and economic stress faced by women leaving violent or abusive relationships.
PIAC also provides policy advice and advocacy through its consumer advisory committee, StreetCare. As part of this work Streetcare is currently conducting a consumer consultation project that is seeking to present the stories of women who have survived domestic violence, but had to endure periods of homelessness as a result of their experiences. See Chrissie’s story, below. If you would like more information about the project, contact Louis Schetzer on 8898 6516 or [email protected]
Chrissie was in a long-term relationship with a violent partner. For seventeen years she endured continual physical and emotional violence, sustaining serious injuries, including major head injuries and long-term trauma. For her own safety, she had to leave the relationship and was forced to rely on women’s shelters, friends and other support networks for her accommodation, often having to sleep on people’s couches, or even sleeping rough.
Chrissie is one of many women who have come into HPLS legal clinics, who have experienced homelessness as a result of domestic violence.
*Not her real name.