The Women’s Homelessness Prevention Service (WHPS) was launched in 2022, in response to the urgent need for a specialist legal service to support women experiencing or at risk of homelessness in NSW.
Women are often pushed into homelessness by poverty or family and domestic violence. Our trauma-informed service is focused on early-intervention and targeting factors that cause homelessness. For example, we help women understand their rights as tenants, support them to apply for protection orders, make referrals for family law support and assist with financial matters such as applying for victims of crime compensation payments or writing off debts and fines.
We are also piloting a specialist criminal legal service for women. The number of women in NSW prisons is increasing. A growing body of research gives insight into the reasons why women are criminalised: domestic and family violence, sexual assault and homelessness are often involved.
Our pilot will look at options to divert women out of the criminal legal system. Over eighteen months we will gather data to demonstrate the benefits of a specialist criminal law service for women in NSW that incorporates legal assistance and case management support.
While providing legal help and support to individual clients, WHPS advocates for changes to the current system that is letting down the growing number of women needing a safe and secure home.
Guided by an advisory group of women from diverse backgrounds with lived experience of homelessness and domestic and family violence, WHPS works with the broader HPLS team to provide recommendations for reform: to government, the public sector and service providers.