What is happening to Women’s Specialist Homelessness Services?

I have spoken before on the misconceptions of the Going Home, Staying Home Strategy and the plight of Specialist Women’s Services under this new regime. The Government has handed most of the services to the Big 4 religious charities and tenders have now been decided. Some of the smaller organisations have been given small packages under the auspice of the main tenderer but they have lost all their independence and the leases of their properties.

Refuges and other outreach services who were leasing their properties from Housing NSW (now the Land and Housing Corporation) are finding that their leases are being terminated and handed over to the appropriate major religious charity. Of course we all know that these charities have enormous property holdings which have been a plus in the government’s tender process as has the promise to increase the number of clients processed.

It is obvious that with all the tender points going to the Big 4 because of their wealth and assets the small refuges and services have been left out in the cold.

Lillian’s long-term housing for young girls escaping family violence, which was situated in Erskineville and run by women is one of the services that has been handed over to a religious group. In fact Lillian’s has been handed over to Father Riley’s “Youth off the Streets” which raises the question of how long it can survive as a young women only service.

Another service in Leichardt which had 12 properties has seen 2/3 of these properties split off and put into other tender packages which they could not tender for. There appear to be no specialist Aboriginal only services and even though the organisations were encouraged to form alliances for the purpose no tender was offered.

The Liberals may congratulate themselves on putting more money back into the inner city but the outlook for Women’s Specialist Services has not improved and the question of whether some of these big charities are appropriate to be handling specialist women’s services has not been discussed. I have grave concerns that the 4 major religious charities will absorb and destroy what have been independent, secular, women’s services devoted to supporting people without judgement or preaching as was the case in the past.


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